A weak coalition government in Pakistan will find it hard to stabilize relations with its neighbours

From: Chatham House
Published: Tue Feb 13 2024


The new government in Islamabad will seek to renew ties with China, while dealing with a third Modi government, a hostile Afghanistan - and its own military.

The dust has yet to settle on Pakistan's election. The official results show that independent candidates aligned to the PTI - the party of Imran Khan - have performed better than anticipated despite Khan's arrest and conviction. This belies the initial belief that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - the party of the Sharif brothers (Nawaz and Shehbaz) - would lead the next government.

The PTI and PML-N both claim victory, but neither has yet secured the requisite numbers to form a government on its own. This increases the probability that a messy coalition government is formed after an extended period of horse-trading. In this context, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - the party of the Bhutto-Zardari family - is likely to play a crucial role with the possibility of a power-sharing arrangement with the PML-N.

Pakistan's Army Chief Asim Munir has called on the country to move on from the politics of ‘anarchy and polarization,' indicating that the military will try to break the deadlock by propping up a government led by its preferred party(currently the PML-N). Doing so would reaffirm the perennial role of the so-called ‘establishment' (Pakistan's military and intelligence services) in pulling the strings of politics.

However, it would also further undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process, which had already been tarnished by slower than anticipated vote counting, the disruption of mobile and internet services on election day and a string of terrorist attacks in the run-up to the polls.

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Company: Chatham House

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