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The race to govern Pakistan: Who’s in the running, what’s the mood, and what happens next?

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The final results of Pakistan’s elections are out. But there’s still no winner.

Allies of imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan won the most seats in the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, in last Thursday’s controversial vote. It was a shock outcome given the problems his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) faced — no campaign rallies, no polling agents on election day, and internet restrictions. They won 93 out of 265 National Assembly seats. It’s not enough to form a government, however.

The other two mainstream parties, led by Khan’s rivals, also failed to secure enough seats to form a government on their own. They are the PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the PPP, led by political dynasty scion Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari. They won 75 and 54 seats respectively.

It’s Pakistan’s parliament that chooses the next prime minister, so having a majority is crucial.


Not Imran Khan. He’s in prison and barred from holding public office. The PTI said it doesn’t want or need an alliance, claiming it has enough seats. It doesn’t. The party has public support — as shown by the number of seats that candidates scooped up — but it doesn’t have the backing of political peers.

Analyst Azim Chaudhry said the other parties have “grievances and grudges” against Khan from his time in office and that they’re not ready to shake hands with him because he’s made it clear he doesn’t want to talk to them.

The PML-N and PPP started coalition talks once it became clear that Khan loyalists had taken a lead. They claim to have pacts with smaller parties and newly minted parliamentarians, including defectors from Khan’s side, to bump up their seat quota to the magic majority number of 169.