Imran Khan's Party to Sit in Opposition; Rules out Joining Any Coalition Govt: Top Leader

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By PTI

Published : Feb 12, 2024, 5:15 PM IST

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party will not join hands with rival PML-N or the PPP to form a coalition government and would sit in the opposition despite having a majority in the newly elected Parliament.

Despite holding a majority in the recently elected Parliament, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party would remain in the opposition and not work with the PPP or the PML-N to establish a coalition government.

Islamabad: Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party will not join hands with rival PML-N or the PPP to form a coalition government and would sit in the opposition despite having a majority in the newly elected Parliament, party leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan has said. Independent candidates, mostly affiliated with Khan's PTI, secured the most parliamentary seats in last week's general election. However, PTI does not have enough seats in the 266-member National Assembly to form a government on its own.

We don't feel comfortable with both (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party) of them. There will be no talks with anyone to make a government or to make a government together with them. It is better to sit in the opposition than to make a government [with them], but we think we have the majority, Gohar Khan told Dawn News.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced that independent candidates, a majority of them supported by the PTI secured 101 seats, followed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 75 seats, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) getting 54 seats, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) bagging 17 seats.

Other parties got 17 seats while the result of one constituency was withheld. Though the PTI initially claimed to form the government but its chances looked grim from the beginning as at least 169 seats, in the house of 336, were needed to form the government. A total of 266 seats are directly contested while 60 women-reserved seats and 10 minority seats are allocated based on proportional representation to the winning parties.

As PTI was not allowed to contest as a single party with a common symbol, it was not qualified to get the reserved seats. The party hence decided to sit on the opposition benches, leaving the field open for PML-N and PPP as well as others to form a coalition, Gohar said, adding that the PTI would form a strong opposition.

Gohar also called out all those politicians who switched loyalties in the past, saying they had been rejected outright by the people in the February 8 elections. He said the party was looking into the matter of the PTI-backed independent Waseem Qadir joining the PML-N led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The rest of the independent candidates are in touch with us and will stay with us, he asserted. He said that party founder and former premier Imran Khan had given instructions to form governments in the Centre, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab provinces. We will not remain outside or sit outside the assemblies. We have to sit in Parliament and find solutions to all problems there, he said, ostensibly a veiled reference to the party's 2014 sit-in outside Parliament as well as their decision to dissolve the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies in 2023 to force snap polls.

Meanwhile, talks began between the two major parties for a coalition government soon after the results became available. Sources said that so far several open and behind-the-doors meetings have been held between the leaders of PML-N and PPP and other parties. The main hurdle is who will lead the government as both parties are pushing forward their candidates but after a lot of discussion, some sort of middle ground may emerge, according to a leader of the PML-N.

A PPP leader said the party was not withdrawing from its demand that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should be the prime minister because he was endorsed for the post by the PPP's Central Executive Committee (CEC) even before the elections. An independent source said that a new formula for dividing the five-year tenure between the two parties was being discussed and could be acceptable for both groups.

It has been proposed that a PML-N candidate will serve as prime minister for three years and PPP's leader for two years, the source said, adding that it was not yet decided who will get the first term. The PPP's CEC is scheduled to meet later on Monday where various proposals based on discussion with PML-N would be considered and some sort of decision would be made, the source said.

In a related development, the PML-N is also considering proposing Shehbaz Sharif as a candidate for the post of prime minister instead of Nawaz Sharif who was poised to become the premier for the record fourth time but had to change his mind because he was not interested in leading a coalition government.

The political wheeling and dealing has entered into an interesting phase and it is expected the shape of the new set-up would be decided within the next couple of days.

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