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In jail talks, Pakistan's ex-Premier Khan to weigh inter-party merger

Anadolu Agency ASIA
Published February 13,2024

The chairman of the party of jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told Anadolu that he would meet with the ex-premier on Tuesday to discuss whether newly elected independent lawmakers should merge with another party.

Any such merger involving the lawmakers, elected in general polls last week, who have links with Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, will have to take place before parliament convenes on Feb. 29.

"We are in talks with different parties and final decision will be announced within next two, three days," said Gohar Khan.

The lawmakers had to fight the Feb. 8 elections as independents after the PTI was removed from the ballot paper and barred from competing elections due to a court order.

This left the PTI unable to benefit from a share of 70 reserved seats distributed among parties according to the ratio of seats they won in the elections.

So far, the PTI has held talks with the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq) and Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Pakistan parties to discuss a possible merger agreement.

PTI leaders are expected to meet Khan in the Adiala jail, where he is being held, to "get final approval," the party interim chief said.

Former cricket star Khan is facing 202 court cases and has been in jail since last August.

Amid mass allegations about rigging to change the outcome of the poll, PTI-linked candidates won at least 93 seats out of a total of 101 independents who won in the general elections that produced a hung parliament.

Any single party needs 169 seats to form a government in the 336-seat lower house of parliament, known as the National Assembly.

But without reserved seats, a party would need 134 to form a government.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 75 seats, while Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) managed to grab 54.

Several independent candidates have joined Sharif's party, while the PTI has issued a warning against "stealing the public mandate."

The rest of the seats were won by other parties, including Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Pakistan, which got 17.

PML-N, the PPP, and MQM have held several rounds of talks for a coalition government.


Several political parties, including the PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan, and others, accused election officers — known as district returning officers — of allegedly changing the results of the polls, submitting vote counts different from those issued by presiding officers at polling stations.

The PTI has claimed that many Khan-linked candidates were robbed of their seats in this way, while authorities have denied any allegation of rigging.

The president is required by the Constitution to summon a National Assembly session to elect the speaker, deputy speaker, and the leader of the house by Feb. 29.

Around 60 million, or approximately 48%, of nearly 129 million voters cast ballots on Thursday.