The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday indicated it will prefer to sit in opposition rather than make an alliance with either the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) or Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to form the next government at the center.
“We don’t feel comfortable with either of them,” PTI leader Gohar Ali Khan told Dawn News. “There will be no talks with anyone to make a government or to make a government together with them. It is better to sit in the opposition than to make a government, but we think we have the majority,” he said, while admitting the party was also exploring “other options.”
A key barrier to the PTI forming the next government without any coalition is its inability to secure reserved seats because its candidates won the polls while contesting as independents. Recognizing this, Gohar said the party might choose to ally or merge with another party so it could avail the reserved seats that are only available to registered political parties.
Among the potential parties the PTI could ally with are the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI); the Muttahida Qaumi Movement; or the Majils-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM). However, it remains unclear which, if any, of these it could pursue as under law only reserved seats already conveyed to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) can be availed after polls.
Separately, appearing on Geo News, Gohar said the party was examining the matter of PTI-backed independents who have started to defect to other parties after winning the Feb. 8 elections. Maintaining that the independents “who are in touch with us” will remain with the party, he rebutted claims by several candidates—and verified by video statements—that the PTI had asked any winning independent candidates to take oath on the Quran to remain loyal to it.
To a question, Gohar maintained PTI founder Imran Khan had instructed the party to form governments in the center, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. “We will not remain outside or sit outside the assemblies,” he maintained. “We have to sit in Parliament and find solutions to all problems there,” he added.
Also on Sunday, in an interview with Arab News, Gohar called for the release of all PTI workers and supporters currently incarcerated, as well as the “acceptance” of the PTI’s mandate to form the next government. “Healing touch would mean that you [Army] got to make sure that there are no political prisoners anymore in Pakistan,” he said, referring to a statement of Army chief Gen. Asim Munir after the conduct of the elections.
“United government means that every party should be united in one thing, which is that you have to respect and regard people’s mandate first,” he added.
In the same interview, he claimed 95 of 102 directly elected independent candidates to the National Assembly were loyal to the PTI. He also confirmed that the party would challenge the results of “at least” 50 seats if believed it had won but was made to lose “through rigging.”