Pak parties intensify efforts to form coalition govt after split poll verdict

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ISLAMABAD: The PML-N, which claims to be all set to form the coalition government in Pakistan along with the PPP, on Sunday managed to secure the support of the first independent candidate backed by Imran Khan’s party to increase its strength in Parliament.

Wasim Qadir, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-backed candidate who defeated Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s stalwart Sheikh Rohail Asghar from Lahore’s National Assembly-121 constituency, joined the PML-N after a meeting with Maryam Nawaz, daughter Nawaz Sharif, at her residence. PML-N sources said more such candidates would join it in 24 to 48 hours.

“The establishment will make sure that it sends as many PTI-backed independent candidates to the PML-N camp so that it’s dependence on the Pakistan People’s Party of Bhuttos could be minimal,” the sources said, adding that the PPP wants the prime minister’s slot in which the establishment is keen to install its favourite, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif met with PPP leadership Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Lahore and announced “political cooperation” between the two parties. In a joint statement after the meeting, both the parties agreed to “save the country from political instability”.

Earlier in the day, the PML-N enhanced its efforts to form a coalition government in Islamabad. A delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), which grabbed 17 seats, called on Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif in their Jati Umra Raiwind residence and agreed in principle to work together in forming the government.

Sources say if talks with the PPP fail, the PML-N will join hands with MQM, JUI-F and other smaller parties, including independents, for a coalition government. According to the results announced by the election commission till Sunday, PTI-backed Independents bagged 93 seats, followed by PML-N at 73, PPP 54, MQM 17 and others 19.

Meanwhile, courts have been flooded with petitions by losing candidates who challenged the provisional results in their constituencies. The petitioners are mostly PTI-backed independents, including Punjab ex-CM Parvez Elahi and his wife Qaisera former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimoor Jhagra, etc. In Lahore, the victories of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam, PML-N Attaullah Tarar and former defence minister Khawaja Asif were assailed in separate petitions before the HC.