Pakistan's Khan Decries "Daylight Robbery" As Rivals Form Coalition Govt, Nominate Shehbaz Sharif

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Feb 15, 2024 - 12:05 AM

Pakistan's army-backed Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have announced an agreement to form a coalition government, despite the currently jailed ex-PM Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PIT) emerging as clearly the single most popular 'winner' from the Feb.8 elections. No party singularly won an outright majority of seats in parliament, however.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's PPP confirmed that it would help Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League elect a prime minister. Meetings to form an alliance began Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning it was widely being reported that former PM Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz, has been nominated.

AFP: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (C) along with his younger brother and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) and his daughter Maryam Nawaz (L) attend a gathering with supporters in Lahore.

Crucially, these are the very two parties who were in the coalition that ousted then PM Imran Khan from power in 2022, after which he was slapped with literally over 100 charges of corruption. Khan's supporters have said we are witnessing a process whereby the military and its political allies are 'stealing' an election, after Khan's PIT was already barred from the election, with its candidates forced to run as independents.

The election results saw independents backed by Khan's PIT take 93 out of 266 directly-elected seats. The PML-N won 75 seats with the PPP taking 54 seats.

"The parties present here are almost two-thirds of the house that has been elected," PML-N's Shehbaz Sharif told reporters in the press conference which announced the new coalition. 

Interestingly, Sharif gave a nod to Khan and his significant base of supporters, saying the coalition will be willing to talk to him. "Forget and forgive; forgive and forget – come, let's join hands for the betterment of the country," he said. "Sacrifice self-interests set the issue of egos aside."

However, Khan from prison has blasted "stolen votes" and condemned the "misadventure" of his enemies forming a coalition against him once again.

"Such daylight robbery will not only be a disrespect to the citizens but will also push the country's economy further into a downward spiral," the former Pakistan leader said on social media.

Pakistani law allows up to 21 days after an election for the new parliament to convene, upon which time a new prime minister is elected and sworn in.

Sharif was viewed going into the election as the clear front-runner. He's seen as the "military's man" in Islamabad, while Khan's legacy has sought to be erased by those same elite powers.

As we detailed previously, the hotly contested election has been marred by political violence and acts of terrorism of the past several days, which has even included bombings at polling stations and attacks on political offices. 48 hours of violence going into Thursday's voting saw over 35 people killed and scores wounded.