Pakistan Election
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Pakistan Election: Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif Both Claim an Advantage

The results of the highly anticipated Pakistan election held on February 8th have left the country in political uncertainty. While the final official tally has not yet been announced, preliminary results show no clear winner. However, both former Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif are claiming their parties have emerged with an advantage.

Khan Claims Victory in Pakistan Election

Even though his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was banned from officially participating in the Pakistan election, many candidates loosely affiliated with Khan have won seats. From jail where he is being held on controversial charges, Khan released a statement generated by AI technology claiming his party has scored a “landslide victory” in the Pakistan election.

Khan said the success of PTI-linked candidates defied expectations and “made history.” He congratulated supporters, despite not yet having a majority or being able to form a government. Khan remains defiantly opposed to the political establishment that has targeted him.

Sharif Says PML-N is Largest Party

Meanwhile, rival former PM Nawaz Sharif asserts that his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party has emerged as the single largest faction from the Pakistan election. While not a majority, Sharif believes this gives PML-N the edge to lead a unity government.

Sharif has begun negotiations with smaller parties to join him in a coalition. He claims only his leadership can steer Pakistan out of its current economic crisis and political turmoil following the inconclusive Pakistan election results.

PTI Performance Unexpected

Khan’s PTI party winning the most individual seats was unanticipated. Most experts predicted Sharif’s PML-N, with apparent military backing, would dominate the Pakistan election. But PTI-affiliated candidates exceeded expectations.

This grassroots support highlights Khan’s enduring popularity despite being ousted from power in 2022. However, because PTI is not an officially registered party, Sharif’s PML-N technically did win the most seats as a single political entity.

What Are Possible Governments?

With no faction winning an outright majority in the Pakistan election, complex coalition-building negotiations will determine who governs next.

If PTI and smaller parties join forces, they could potentially form a coalition led by Khan loyalists. However, legal challenges remain regarding PTI’s status as an unregistered party.

Otherwise, Sharif seeks to unite parties under PML-N leadership. The Pakistan People’s Party led by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has emerged as the potential third largest bloc that could give Sharif enough seats for a majority coalition.

Concerns Over Credibility

Despite the unclear outcome, international observers have voiced concerns over the credibility of the Pakistan election. Issues like communication blackouts, restrictions on campaigning, and bans on parties like PTI from participating have drawn criticism.

Some voters also faced obstacles like the inability to find transport due to internet shutdowns on election day. The opaque influence of Pakistan’s military on the election process also raises questions.

What Role Will the Military Play ?

The powerful military is likely to be a kingmaker in determining who ultimately forms government. The army is widely seen as favouring Sharif and PML-N, despite past differences. But PTI’s surprising performance could influence the military’s calculations.

Army Chief General Asim Munir urged all sides to accept the Pakistan election results and unite to form a stable civilian government, though the military will remain influential behind the scenes.

Challenges Ahead for Next Government

Whoever ends up governing faces immense challenges. Pakistan is mired in economic crisis and political dysfunction. The next administration must tackle inflation, debt, and difficult reforms to stabilize things.

They will also inherit enormous foreign policy troubles, especially relations with the West and India. With compromise and unity elusive lately in Pakistan’s turbulent democracy, the path ahead after this divisive Pakistan election remains rocky and uncertain.

Both Khan and Sharif face obstacles to translating their claims of advantage into a definitive governing mandate. The political jockeying is ongoing after an election that has left Pakistan’s future direction unclear.

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