Islamabad: The recent elections in Pakistan have left the political landscape in uncertainty, with no clear winner emerging as the counting of votes nears completion. Despite the lack of a decisive outcome, major political parties have already begun negotiations and discussions in an attempt to secure enough support to form governments at both the national and provincial levels.

PML-N Takes Initiative

Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has assigned his brother, former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to initiate talks with key parties like the PPP and MQM-P to explore possibilities of forming alliances.

Previous Coalition Dynamics

Interestingly, the PML-N and PPP were previously part of the ruling coalition government following Imran Khan’s removal in April 2022. However, tensions between the two parties escalated during the election campaign, complicating the path to coalition-building.

Independent Candidates In The Lead

Preliminary results suggest that independent candidates, largely supported by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), are leading on a significant number of seats. This has added complexity to the political equation, requiring parties to negotiate and strategize effectively.

Coalition Building Efforts

Shehbaz Sharif has reportedly met with PPP leaders – Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto – at the residence of Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi to discuss the election results and potential post-election scenarios, indicating a willingness to explore coalition possibilities.

MQM-P’s Exploring All Options

The MQM-P, initially inclined to support Nawaz Sharif, is reassessing its options in light of the electoral outcomes. The party’s convener, Siddiqui has extended invitations to independent candidates to join forces, signaling a shift in strategy.

Delay In Declaring Election Results

While political manoeuvring unfolds, concerns have been raised regarding the fairness of the electoral process. Criticisms from international actors, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, highlight issues such as violence, alleged lack of fairness, and disruptions like internet outages during the voting process.

Imran Khan’s Victory Speech

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, despite facing criticism over the handling of the elections, has released a statement claiming victory, citing a high voter turnout as evidence of the failure of his opponents’ strategies. In his AI-enabled voice, Khan said that the ‘London Plan’ of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif failed with the massive turnout of voters on polling day.

In a related development, Imran Khan was granted bail in 12 cases related to the May 9 riots by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi, according to The Express Tribune. Additionally, Khan’s close aide and the former foreign minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmud Qureshi was also granted bail in 13 cases, the daily reported.

Imran was also granted bail in the GHQ and Army Museum attacks, with the court requiring a PKR0.1 million surety bond in all 12 cases. The bail applications were considered by ATC Judge Malik Ejaz Asif. The court ruled that there was no rationale for keeping the PTI founder in custody, and all suspects in the May 9 cases were granted bail.

With no clear winner emerging from the elections, Pakistan finds itself in a phase of political uncertainty and negotiation, as parties strive to form viable coalitions amid concerns about the electoral process’s integrity.