ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan's likely new Prime Minister Imran Khan staged coalition talks with at least one smaller party and independent politicians on Saturday, a spokesperson said after announcing the full results of a rival-denied election.
Cricket star politician-politician Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), speaks with media members after casting his vote in a polling station in parliamentary elections in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 25 July 201
Khan celebrated 16.86 million votes in a better-than-expected performance and beat the party of imprisoned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who finished second with 12.89 million votes.
But the 116 seats won by Khan's legislators were not enough to give him a majority in the 272-seat National Assembly without coalition partners, and he barred the other two major parties and called them corrupt.
Officials from Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or the Justice Party in Pakistan said they were in talks with independent candidates and at least one other political party to form a coalition government.
"We are pretty much in the National Assembly … talks are also continuing with MQM," said Faisal Javed Khan, a senior PTI spokesman, to Reuters.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has dominated politics in the port city of Karachi for decades and won six seats in the parliamentary elections after the party split with longtime leader Altaf Hussain.
He added that Khan must take the oath as prime minister around 14 August, Pakistan's Independence Day.
In a press conference, PTI spokesman Naeem Ul Haq told reporters that the party would also form a government in Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab, and "good news" by Sunday.
The poll was clouded by long delays in counting and lawsuits brought by Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. Some of the smaller religious parties face street protests if the vote is not re-run.
Khan has offered to investigate any allegations of irregularities in the wake of Wednesday's poll allegedly claiming Sharif's PML-N and several other parties in favor of the former cricketer hero of Pakistan's powerful military.
The observers of the European Union criticized the political climate in the run-up to the vote and said that there is no level playing field. The United States expressed similar concerns.
Khan, with 116 seats, has not reached the required number of 137 for a meeting majority, which means he probably needs a multi-party coalition with religious parties and independents to form a government.
Two newly formed small parties are considered open to an alliance with Khan's PTI.
The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), a new alliance in the southern province of Sindh, has two seats.
Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), another new group consisting of a number of experienced political names from the southwestern province of Balochistan, has received four seats.
The Pakistan Electoral Commission (ECP) on Saturday published results for 270 races, with elections suspended in two seats. Several races were counted, so the final numbers could change.
Coalition arithmetic is hampered by the fact that another 70 seats reserved for women and non-Muslim minority nationals are allocated to the parties because of their performance in the disputed constituencies. Once these seats are added, each coalition will need at least 172 seats.
Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan, writing by Drazen Jorgic, editorial by Kay Johnson, editorial by Shri Navaratnam, William Maclean