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PMLN, PPP reach agreement on coalition government

PMLN, PPP reach agreement on coalition government

 


By Sean Seddon and Farhat Javed, BBC UrduBBC News

Getty ImagesThe PMLN failed to win the February 8 elections but struck a deal to return it to power

Two political parties in Pakistan have reached a formal agreement to form a new government following elections mired in controversy.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) will be supported by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in a new administration, they jointly announced.

On February 8, both parties won fewer seats than candidates loyal to imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

On X, Mr Khan's PTI party called the coalition “mandate stealers”.

His movement claims the vote was rigged to keep its supporters out of power.

More than six days after reaching an initial agreement to form a coalition, the PMLN and PPP announced that a comprehensive agreement had been reached at a press conference on Tuesday.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardaro, Chairman of the PPP, said: “The goal of the coalition is to address the country's economic crisis. »

Former Prime Minister and PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif promised “collective action to address economic and other challenges”.

The deal means Mr Sharif is set to become prime minister for a second time with the backing of the coalition's junior partner, while the PPP's Asif Ali Zardari will be the coalition's presidential candidate – a position which he has already occupied.

EPAFormer Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif set to return to power after deal struck with small party

The process of electing the prime minister involves a parliamentary vote, scheduled for the end of February. A separate election to choose the next president will take place in the coming weeks.

It is still unclear who will occupy the other important government positions.

Controversial parliamentary elections earlier this month failed to produce a conclusive result.

Although Mr. Khan is behind bars and his candidates have been forced to run as independents rather than under a single banner, candidates backed by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have emerged as the most large block in a shock result.

However, their 93 seats in the National Assembly fall far short of the overall majority of 169 needed to form a government.

This paved the way for the PMLN, led by another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to enter into negotiations with the PPP.

The PMLN won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 – but with support likely from smaller parties and once seats reserved for women and representatives of religious minorities are distributed, the coalition partners will have 'sufficient support in Parliament to govern.

The two parties were part of a coalition that forced Mr Khan out of office in dramatic fashion in 2022. In January 2024, he was jailed for 10 years after being accused of leaking state secrets, which he 'he denies.

The PTI is contesting the result in court and its supporters have staged protests across the country.

Last week, Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman of the Jamaat-e-Islami party gave up his seat in Karachi after alleging that local election officials were given medals in the process to prevent his PTI opponent from winning.

Social media has been disrupted across the country in recent days due to the protests. Internet access monitoring group NetBlocks said Tuesday that access to X – formerly Twitter – remains restricted for many people.

Outside Source radio on BBC World Service will be answering your questions from 16:00 GMT today on the Pakistan elections.

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