Home Latest News Shehbaz Sharif Urges PTI-Backed Independents to Form Government if in Majority

Shehbaz Sharif Urges PTI-Backed Independents to Form Government if in Majority

PMLN president dismisses rigging allegations by noting several of his party’s stalwarts lost to independents

by Staff Report

PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif addresses a press conference in Lahore. Photo courtesy PMLN

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independent candidates to prove their majority in Parliament and form the incoming government, adding if this happened his party would gladly sit in the opposition.

“If they call themselves PTI-sponsored or non-PTI-sponsored—if they [independents] can form a government then they should. The president will not give them an invitation,” he told journalists at a press conference in Lahore.

“If they can show the majority [in the National Assembly] then we will gladly sit in the opposition benches and play the constitutional role,” he said. “If they cannot make a government, then obviously other political parties will make a decision with consensus and field a candidate. This is the constitutional way … we need to move forward like this and finalize the upcoming phase,” he added.

Referring to the Feb. 8 general elections, he said they were conducted despite concerns over the security situation and adverse weather conditions. Appreciating the role played by law enforcement agencies in safeguarding the people on Election Day, he also lamented “baseless” allegations of rigging against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Comparing the polling between the 2018 elections and the 2024 polls, he noted that results had been delayed for 66 hours six years ago. “For the first time in history, the results of cities were delayed while those of villages poured in,” he recalled.

Noting that despite losing its mandate in “rigged” elections in 2018 the PMLN had not staged any sit-ins or hurled any abuse, he said it had rather entered Parliament in protest. “Who doesn’t know that the election was stolen? We didn’t say we would set Parliament on fire or give the nation a message of civil disobedience,” he said, stressing the opposition of the time had set aside its political differences for the sake of Pakistan.

“When we talked about a charter of democracy, in my maiden speech [as premier], I was ridiculed,” he recalled, lamenting PTI founder Imran Khan had refused to even shake hands with his opponents. “We sacrificed politics to save the country. Otherwise, the PTI government had led the country to default,” he maintained, referring to the 16 months of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s rule.

To a question on allegations of rigging, Sharif lamented that the polls were being made controversial despite several PMLN stalwarts also losing their seats to independents. “In KP, the majority is of independent candidates … does that mean they won through rigging? In Sindh and Balochistan, there was no sign of independents,” he said, reiterating that the independents were free to make a government. “We will sit in the opposition and fulfil our role,” he said.

Recalling that Pakistan has never seen elections without allegations of rigging, he regretted that media had declared several independents as winners on seats when just 10-12 percent of results were available. “On one hand there are allegations of rigging [but] then independents are winning and we are losing. This is contradictory,” he said. “Elections have happened and it was proven that out of political parties, PMLN is the biggest party. If you count independents, then their number is obviously greater—but in political parties PMLN is number one,” he said.

With respect to the Punjab Assembly, he said the PMLN had attained a simple majority in the province. “Despite this, Nawaz Sharif has decided to talk to other political parties and form a government with consensus,” he added. To a question on the induction of independents into the PMLN, he said Nawaz Sharif had already said that PTI-backed independents should utilize their constitutional right to form a government if they want to. “But if people want to join the PMLN out of their own will, what is the problem in that?” he asked.

The PMLN, said the party leader, was currently engaging with all political parties on the formation of the next government but an announcement would only come after achieving consensus. “The country needs to move forward,” he stressed, noting any new government faced numerous challenges and little time to address them. “Our fight is against inflation, poverty, terrorism and unemployment,” he said, emphasizing that the nation’s “wounds” must be healed through a commitment for all sides to work together.

“We need to turn pain into happiness, we need to turn hatred into love, we need to turn differences into discussions, we will have to bury the bitterness and sit together to find the solution to all the problems,” he said. “In the name of God, in the name of Pakistan, we should show the world that we have learned our lesson … and make Pakistan a country that was envisioned by Iqbal and Quaid,” he added.

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