What’s next in Pakistan election deadlock?

ISLAMABAD   -  Country’s national election ended with no party winning a majority in parliament, in polls marred by violence, political turmoil and questions of trans­parency. Former prime min­isters and bitter rivals Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan both de­clared victory, adding to the un­certainty as the country faces numerous challenges that need to be addressed quickly, includ­ing negotiating a new Inter­national Monetary Fund pro­gramme to keep a struggling $350 billion economy afloat.

Next, a prime ministerial can­didate has to show a simple ma­jority of 169 seats in the Nation­al Assembly when the house is called in coming days.

The Assembly consists of 336 seats of which 266 are decided through direct voting on polling day. There are also 70 reserved seats - 60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims - allotted accord­ing to the strength of each party in the house to determine the fi­nal position of parties in the As­sembly. Here are four scenarios on what could happen next:


Sharif’s party, which won 75 seats, strikes a deal with the Pa­kistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto, which won 53 seats, to pull together a major­ity in parliament.

The two, along with other smaller parties, form a coali­tion government in which Shar­if or his brother is prime minis­ter and important positions are given to other parties.

The two parties were in government together for 16 months till August, with Bhu­tto Zardari as foreign minister and Sharif’s brother Shehbaz as prime minister.


Khan’s independent candi­dates, who won 93 seats, join a smaller party in parliament in order to form a single bloc to ful­fil a requirement for them to be allocated reserved seats. That would push them closer to a ma­jority and allow them to put up a candidate for prime minister. They can also strike a deal with other parties to support a con­sensus candidate, which also means Khan’s supporters are in power, and can push to have their jailed leader released un­der an agreement. Khan himself is not eligible to become prime minister. The party will have to push hard for allies to align with Khan’s politics.


While Sharif and Khan’s can­didates won the most seats, no party can form government without the PPP. With both looking to keep the other out of power, the PPP strikes a deal to make the young Bhutto Zardari prime minister.

He pushed the idea before the polls, saying he would bring a fresh approach to pull Pakistan out of multiple crises which other aged leaders have been unable to do.


Uncertainty drags on with no one able to form government. Pakistan’s army, the most powerful and organised force in the country, steps in to re­store order and takes power as it has done thrice before in the country’s 76-year history - the last time in 1999 to over­throw Sharif’s government. The army has already called on political parties to show “ma­turity and unity”.

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