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Pakistan election: Can Imran Khan’s winning candidates form a government?

Pakistan is in political limbo after a split verdict. But what options does Khan’s PTI have, after candidates won the most seats?

Islamabad, Pakistan — Five days after the elections on February 8, Pakistan is nowhere closer to knowing which parties are going to make its next government and who might be its next prime minister.

The elections delivered a split mandate amid a cloud of questions over the fairness of the climate in which they were held, allegations of serious manipulation, and challenges to the accuracy of the vote counts that dragged on for three days.

Leading with at least 96 seats are the candidates affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who were forced to contest the election as independents, without their electoral symbol, the cricket bat.

They are followed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) of three-time ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has won 75 seats and in theory, is the single-largest party in the National Assembly, even though the figure amounts to less than a third of the 266 seats that were up for grabs on February 8.

In third place is the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, which has secured 54 seats.

But can the PTI-backed independents form or join a government, what are the options for the party, and what comes next for the country?

A party or coalition needs a simple majority of 134 seats out of the 266 that were voted on in the National Assembly, to form a government.

A coalition can consist of multiple parties or also include independents who won their seats.

Those independent candidates can either formally join a party that is aiming to form a government or enter an alliance