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No Sign of New Government in Pakistan as Coalition Talks Drag

The biggest parties in Pakistan are still unable to come to an agreement on establishing a coalition government to lead the crisis-ridden nation, and Tuesday’s political impasse following last week’s inconclusive elections showed no signs of abating.

After the poll on February 8, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, emerged as the biggest party. The PPP, the second largest, is still being negotiated with in order to form a coalition.

With the most seats, independents supported by imprisoned former prime minister Imran Khan have been challenged by PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif to form a government and demonstrate their majority. Other parties would, he claimed, if they were unable to.

According to Khan’s media staff, he had made it apparent those supporters of his Pakistan

The stalemate five days after the general election has become a cause for concern as the nuclear-armed country grapples with an economic crisis and rising militant violence.

Pakistan narrowly averted sovereign default last summer through a last-gasp $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – 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, which will take over an economy beset by record high inflation and slow growth caused by tough reforms.

“We had two meetings and there will be more,” Sharif told reporters, referring to his party’s talks with PPP. “We will let the nation know when there is a decision. We all have to move together for the larger national interest.

“We will, God willing, play our role” to tackle the challenges Pakistan is facing, counter inflation and fix the broken economy, said Sharif, 72, who was premier for 16 months until August.

He said PML-N numbers in parliament had risen to 80 from 75 on Monday with independents joining the party.

There was no immediate word about the negotiations from PPP and the party leadership is expected to speak to reporters later on Tuesday.

The two parties are wrangling over who will be prime minister, with both wanting the top job.

Separately, Khan’s media team said Khan had told reporters during a court appearance inside prison that independents backed by his PTI will not form a coalition with the three largest parties, ending rumours that it might form such an alliance.

Khan was jailed last month on charges including the revealing of state secrets and his party was barred from contesting elections, forcing members to run as independents.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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