In the aftermath of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the opposition party led by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, has declared itself the winner. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which was led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also claimed victory earlier in the week. However, two days later, it is clear that no single party will have a majority and a difficult government formation process is underway.
Despite his party’s failure to secure a majority, Sharif has already started coalition talks with the third-placed popular party PPP led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardar. It is possible that he may try to court possible defectors among independent candidates or form an alliance with a small party in order to find a majority.
The elections were marred by violence and a suspension of mobile and internet services in some areas, which prevented some people from casting their votes. Activists have accused the government of suppressing free and fair elections through these measures.
Pakistan is currently facing a deep economic crisis, with massive inflation plaguing the country for decades. Despite attempts at democratic governance, the country has been plagued by unrest and instability since its founding more than 75 years ago. The powerful military has ruled for more than half of that time and even under civilian governments, its influence was seen as determining political success or failure.
In response to these challenges, Pakistani army chief Asim Munir urged political leaders to put aside their own interests and focus on serving the people. He emphasized the importance of building “safe hands” that would be able to break the cycle of anarchy and polarization in Pakistan.