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Business News/ News / World/  Pakistan Elections: A look at challenges awaiting new govt amid poll result uncertainty
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Pakistan Elections: A look at challenges awaiting new govt amid poll result uncertainty

Pakistan Election: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif claimed his party “emerged as the largest party in the country”. Here a look at some challenges political parties and new government could face.

A colourful election banner is seen in Peshawar on February 9, 2024, a day after Pakistan's national elections. Independent candidates linked to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan were outperforming expectations in early tallies from Pakistan's election, after a long delay in results added to accusations of poll rigging. (AFP)Premium
A colourful election banner is seen in Peshawar on February 9, 2024, a day after Pakistan's national elections. Independent candidates linked to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan were outperforming expectations in early tallies from Pakistan's election, after a long delay in results added to accusations of poll rigging. (AFP)

Will Pakistan manage to get a new prime minister this time? Speculations loom large as the country's key political parties remain in a tight race in general election results. The results of the Pakistan elections 2024 are expected to be released by Friday night. The polling was held on February 8.

As per Pakistani media reports, the provisional results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan showed that independent candidates, mostly backed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), were leading the poll results.

Follow Pakistan Election Results 2024 LIVE Updates here

Around 10:30 pm on Friday, news agency PTI cited the Election Commission of Pakistan's dats, saying that the PTI-backed candidates had won 92 seats in the National Assembly, Nawaz Shareef's PML-N had won 63 seats and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had won 50 seats.

The voting was held in 265 of the 266 constituencies in Pakistan's National Assembly and a political party needs 133 seats for a simple majority. Overall, 169 seats are needed to secure a simple majority out of its total 336 seats, which include the reserved slots for women and minorities.

ALSO READ: Pakistan elections: What caused the delay in poll results? Interior ministry says 'lack of communication'

Meanwhile, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif claimed his party "emerged as the largest party in the country". Notably, PTI party leaders contested the polls as independent candidates after Pakistan's Supreme Court and the Election Commission said they couldn’t use the party symbol — a cricket bat.

Possible hurdles in formation of new Pakistan govt

1. Analysts predicted that there may be no clear winner. In case no political party wins an outright majority, the one with the most seats can try to form a coalition government.

However, Pakistan's political climate is said to be deeply divided. Nawaz Sharif, who is seeking a fourth record term as the country's prime minister, had earlier ruled out any coalition.

ALSO READ: Pakistan elections 2024: Violence, poll rigging, systemic errors — here's what voters experienced at polls

But, as Nawaz Sharif claimed his party to be the single-largest party in Pakistan Elections, he said in a speech on Friday he has told Shehbaz Sharif to reach out to PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari, JUI-F’s Fazlur Rehman and MQM-P’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui for the formation of a coalition government. 

Amid these claims, the Associated Press reported that "Pakistan's deeply divided political climate, however, is unlikely to produce a coalition pulling together for the betterment of the country, which is grappling with high inflation, year-round energy outages, and militant attacks".

ALSO READ: Pakistan polls today: Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto to Imran Khan - Key contenders and their stand on India

In case any coalition fails, the situation may add to the woes of the country which has been struggling to recover from an economic crisis while it grapples with rising militant violence in a deeply polarised political environment.

ALSO READ: Pakistan election results rigged? What's claimed as Imran Khan's PTI- backed candidates lead Nawaz Sharif's party

"A timely announcement of the results, leading to a smooth formation of a new government will reduce policy and political uncertainty," Moody's Investors Service was quoted by Reuters as saying. "This is crucial for the country that is facing very challenging macroeconomic conditions," it added.

2. If independent candidates lead the election race, those supported by the PTI could join any other existing party or support a political party after elections, news agencies reported. They could join or support any other party except the PTI because its intra-party elections were declared null and void. Also, the PTI was deprived of a common symbol before elections.

Challenges before new Pakistan govt

1. Economic tension

Pakistan's new government will take over an economy beset by record-high inflation and slow growth caused by tough reforms.

The country narrowly averted sovereign default last year as the then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif managed to secure a $3 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, the lender's support ends in March, following which officials believe a new, extended programme will be needed. Here, negotiating a new programme, and at speed, will be critical for the new Pakistan government.

A new programme means committing to steps needed to stay on a narrow path to recovery. This may limit policy options to provide relief to the population frustrated with inflation and cater to industries that are looking for government support to spur growth, Reuters reported.

2. Political tensions

Jailed Imran Khan maintains mass popular support in Pakistan. His stay in jail is feared to only stoke tensions at a time when stability is needed to attract foreign investment to shore up the economy.

Khan has been in jail since August 2023 in connection with various cases. More cases are pending against him - including one that accuses him of ordering violent attacks on military installations, which could entail the death sentence.

Khan had reportedly said earlier that the military launched a crackdown on him and his party after they fell out on policy decisions when he was the prime minister.

ALSO READ: Pakistan Elections: Jailed ex-PM Imran Khan's allies outperform; PTI alleges mass rigging as results delayed. 10 point

3. Military challenges

The new government will need to maintain a balance between keeping the country's powerful generals happy while charting out its own policies, Reuters reported.

In the past, elected governments have been ousted by military intervention, including three coups or indirect pressure from generals, the report added.

Notably, no prime minister has completed a full five-year tenure in Pakistan's 76-year history.

4. Militant attacks

Pakistan has reported a rise in militant attacks over the past year. At least 271 militant attacks took place in the country during the first half of 2023, resulting in the loss of 389 lives and injuring 656 individuals, news agency ANI reported. The report cited a statistical report released by independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).

Militant attacks in Pakistan surged since 2022 when a ceasefire broke down between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella body of hardline Sunni Islamist groups.

Militants have carried out a string of high-profile attacks and returned to strongholds inside Pakistan. According to Reuters, an ethno-nationalist Baloch insurgency in the southwest, which also targets the interests of key ally China, has picked up steam.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 09 Feb 2024, 08:24 PM IST
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