Post-Election Pakistan More Divided than Ever

On Sunday, February 11, three days after people went to the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced the final results of the election.

Movement for Justice (PTI) candidates are leading, followed by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in third place. However, no party has been given a clear mandate to form a government following elections that were marked by violence, instability, and lack of transparency.

Popular Imran Khan (PTI), a former cricket champion and former prime minister, has won 101 seats in the National Assembly, but he needs 68 more for an absolute majority. Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), also a former prime minister, is second with 75 seats. Bilawal Bhutto (PPP) won 54 seats. As a result, the country is more divided than ever. The situation is complicated by the fact that by presenting themselves not as a real party but as a group of independents, Imran Khan’s supporters can count on directly elected candidates rather than seats that are allocated in proportion to the votes received.

Negotiations may already be underway between the Muslim League and the People’s Party to form a coalition government, with some smaller independents also involved. Imran Khan disputes the results. He has been in prison since 2022, when his mandate as head of government ended, as he is accused of corruption. This is exactly why his party presented itself in the elections under a different name and with a different symbol. Imran Khan now recalls vote count fraud: “We were leading in 150 counties before the results started being manipulated.” Among the charges are blocking mobile networks on Election Day and extending the deadline to change election results.

Pakistan needs urgent solutions to the problems and political stability, which seems far away. The country faces an inflation rate of 30% per year and an external debt of $125 billion dollars. Among the immediate tasks is negotiating a new program with the International Monetary Fund, with which a $3 billion loan has been agreed in 2023. Now a new IMF intervention is needed. However, new aid requires reforms that are impossible in a politically unstable environment.