Islamabad [Pakistan] : While the general elections in Pakistan threw up a fractured mandate, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Independents were shown to be in the lead, leaving many to wonder if the country, which has been battling myriad challenges in the recent past, primarily on the economic front, was poised to get its first-ever Independent PM, Dawn News reported.
Despite allegations of rigging and electoral malfeasance by the PTI, Independents backed by the party founded by former Prime Minister Imran Khan were leading the vote count in maximum seats.
Despite the trends showing otherwise, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif gave a premature victory speech, indicating his willingness to form a coalition government.
However, if the trends, as reported by a section of Pakistani media and social media circles, hold, Pakistan could well be on its way to electing a government of Independents.
According to the Dawn report, despite polling most votes as the trends majorly show, the PTI is still at a significant disadvantage, courtesy the ECP’s decision to relieve it of its iconic ‘bat’ symbol as well as the barrage of cases against its top-tier leadership who remain behind bars. This means that even if the candidates it is backing clinch the highest number of seats, the party may not be able to form a government as it won’t be allotted a quota of minority seats.
However, the PTI has the option of announcing an Independent prime ministerial candidate to take the country’s reins, according to the report.
According to journalist Wusatullah Khan, “There have been many more than this–during General Ziaul Haq’s time, the entire Parliament was made up of independents”, Dawn reported.
Recalling the non-party-based elections in the country in 1985, he said no party was allowed to participate in the elections and everybody ran for office in their individual capacity. “Obviously everyone had someone’s support but on paper, they were all independent,” he said.
The returned candidates went on the floor of Parliament and gave their group or party the name of Pakistan Muslim League. “Today, we call it PML-N or PML-Q, before that it was called Chattha league. They were all born on the floor of the non-party assembly of 1985,” he recalled.
According to another journalist Shahzeb Jilani, once the returned candidates are notified, they then have three days to decide if they want to independently support a political party or join a party as a group.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Shairf and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting in Lahore, Dawn News reported quoting sources.
The meeting came shortly after Nawaz claimed victory in general elections held a day earlier and invited his allies to form a coalition government.
The PPP and PML-N were both part of the PDM government that took over from PTI after Imran Khan’s ouster from the prime minister’s office in 2022.
Meanwhile, according to the unofficial provisional results reported by Dawn News for 212 out of 266 seats, the independent candidates, mostly backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are leading with 82 seats.
On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which has emerged as the single largest party, is trailing with 64 seats, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) at 40 seats.