Web Stories Thursday, February 22

DESPERATELY NEEDED REFORMS

A coalition between the PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party – who formed the last government after ousting Khan with a vote of no confidence in April 2022 – still seems the most likely outcome.

“In the short-term, any coalition birthed through a highly controversial election in a highly charged political environment will find it challenging to enact unpopular reforms that Pakistan desperately needs,” Shamsi told AFP.

At least half a dozen minor parties won just one or two seats in the election and would welcome the addition of the independents to their ranks.

That would give them access to an additional 70 seats reserved for women and religious minorities and allocated according to election results, although it has never been done on this scale before and faces legal challenges.

“The courts have a very delicate role at this moment,” said legal expert Osama Malik.

“They will (also) need to decide whether to order recounts in various constituencies. However, recounts in multiple constituencies could also delay the calling of parliament so the courts have to be wary of that as well.”

PTI leaders insist they have been given a “people’s mandate” to form the next government.

“The people have decided in favour of Imran Khan,” party chairman Gohar Ali Khan said at the weekend, before urging party supporters to picket election offices where he said rigging had taken place.

The potential for violent protest is ever present in Pakistan and police fired tear gas to disperse PTI supporters on Sunday after vowing to crack down hard on illegal gatherings.

Hundreds of party leaders and supporters were picked up last year when Khan was hit with more than 150 criminal cases he says were trumped up by the military-led establishment to stop him from contesting the election.

Earlier this month, he was sentenced to lengthy jail terms after being found guilty of treason, graft and having an illegal marriage under Islamic law.

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