Pakistan election 2024 | Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto blames PML-N for delay in govt formation

Despite multiple rounds of talks, PML-N and PPP fail to agree on a power-sharing formula; Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari 'foresees a stalemate'

Updated - February 20, 2024 05:59 pm IST

Published - February 20, 2024 05:29 pm IST - Islamabad

Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, speaks to the press in Islamabad, on Feb. 13, 2024.

Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, speaks to the press in Islamabad, on Feb. 13, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he foresees a "stalemate" in the formation of a coalition government in Pakistan “if someone is not ready to change their stance” on February 20, indicating deepening fissures in the country's political landscape.

Mr. Bhutto-Zardari made these remarks after the latest round of talks between the top leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) ended inconclusively on Monday as both sides failed to reach a consensus on a power-sharing formula to form a coalition government at the Centre following a fractured verdict in the February 8 election.

Harmful delay, says Bhutto-Zardari

The PPP is reportedly asking for key constitutional positions of President, Chairman Senate, and Speaker of the National Assembly for its support to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's PML-N government.

Speaking to reporters at the Supreme Court, Mr. Bhutto-Zardari said that his party was adamant on their stance, highlighting that it will not be changed at any cost, the Dawn reported.

“If someone else wants to change their stance, there can be progress. If they are not ready to change it, I foresee a stalemate,” he said, adding that this would not benefit democracy or the parliamentary system. “If I want to give the PML-N a vote, I will have to give it on my terms and not theirs,” the 35-year-old former foreign minister said.

“The delay [in forming the government] is because of non-seriousness,” he said, adding that the situation is harming Pakistan’s democracy. “The faster this is resolved, it will be better for stability and the incoming government,” he said.

Tough negotiations

The general elections have been controversial with several serious allegations of widespread rigging to alter the results. Over 11 days after the voting, there is still no clarity on which party would form the government at the Centre.

The elections resulted in a hung Parliament. Independent candidates, a majority by ex-PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), won 93 seats, followed by PML-N (75) and the PPP (54).

PML-N and PPP have announced that they will form a coalition government, though independent candidates backed won the maximum number of seats. However, despite multiple rounds of talks, a decision regarding PPP's inclusion in the Cabinet remained elusive.

Sources said Mr. Zardari-Bhutto was playing smartly and trying to bring PML-N to a point where it withdrew from making a coalition government and then launching himself as prime minister and form a government with the support of PTI-backed independents who have now joined the Sunni Ittehad Council.

However, it will not be easy for Mr. Zardari-Bhutto as PTI has already rejected the possibility of supporting the PPP.

To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

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