Pakistan set to get new government as Bhutto's PPP indicates support to Sharif's party

The indication of support comes five days after the Feb 8 vote gave a split verdict and sparked worries of fresh instability

Published : 13 Feb 2024, 04:46 PM
Updated : 13 Feb 2024, 04:46 PM

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday indicated it would support former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's party to form a minority government, seeking to end a stalemate after inconclusive elections in the nuclear-armed nation.

But the conditions to join forces did not bode well for a stable or strong administration in the world's second-largest Muslim country, especially with PPP saying it would not join the government.

The indication of support from PPP's former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto, came five days after the Feb 8 vote gave a split verdict and sparked worries of fresh instability.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is the largest recognised party with 80 seats and PPP is second with 54. Together, they have enough for a simple majority in the 264-seat legislature.

Independent candidates backed by jailed former premier Imran Khan have won 92 seats, making them the largest group, but they cannot form a government on their own, having run as individuals and not a party, and have ruled out alliances with PML-N or PPP.

Bhutto Zardari said Khan's independents and PML-N had more numbers than his party but Khan had ruled out joining forces with PPP.

"That leaves us with the PML-N which is the only political party in the National Assembly which has reached out to the PPP and invited us to join their government," he told reporters.

PPP does not want a perpetual economic crisis or a fresh election leading to a political crisis in Pakistan, Bhutto Zardari said.

His party's support of PML-N from the outside without joining the federal government would make for a weak government.

Still, Bhutto Zardari was keen that his father Asif Ali Zardari be president again. TV channel Geo News also cited PPP sources as saying the party wanted its appointees to take the governor post in all four provinces.

  • Bhutto’s party indicates support to PML-N but won’t join govt

  • PPP wants to install its leader Asif Ali Zardari as president

  • Imran Khan’s party says polls rigged, plans court challenges

  • Pakistan faces economic crisis, will need fresh IMF support soon

  • Analysts say vote outcome could mean more instability


PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, welcomed PPP’s support.

"Talked to Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto by phone and thanked them for extending support to PML-N," Shehbaz Sharif, 72, who was premier for 16 months until August, posted on X.

"We hope that we will together succeed in pulling Pakistan out of all economic and political crises," he said.

The country of 241 million people grapples with an economic crisis amid slow growth and record inflation, along with rising militant violence.

It narrowly averted sovereign default last summer with a $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but the lender's support ends in March, following which a new, extended programme will be needed.

Negotiating a new programme, and at speed, will be critical for the new government.

Analysts had hoped the election would bring a solution to the crises faced byPakistan, but the split verdict, with a large number of independents at loggerheads with the influential military, could only mean more instability.

Khan, a celebrity cricket star-turned-politician, is in jail on charges of corruption and revealing state secrets, and his party was barred from contesting the election, forcing members to run as independents.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has alleged that the vote was rigged and vowed to legally challenge some results. The caretaker government and election commission have rejected those accusations.