Smaller parties take center stage as Pakistan waits for next government

Anadolu Agency

Anadolu Agency photo

As Pakistan’s three mainstream political forces rush to stitch together coalitions after the Feb. 8 general elections, smaller parties find themselves playing an unexpected make-or-break role in the formation of the next government.

Several regional and religiopolitical parties with a few seats between them will be crucial in determining who gets to head the central and provincial governments.

These include the Muttahida Quami Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q).

In the overall results, independent candidates, mostly backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, won the majority of seats – 101 – in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

However, they do not have the required numbers to form a government on their own.

The two other main parties, ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have started talks for a possible coalition government.

They won 75 and 54 out of the 266 direct National Assembly seats, respectively.

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