“For God’s sake! Don’t talk about coalition government. One-party majority is crucial for country,” says PML-N supremo

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif on Thursday urged voters to give him a majority in the National Assembly to pull the country out of crises, while ruling out the possibility of forming a coalition government.

The three-time prime minister made these comments today after casting his vote in the provincial capital today along with his daughter and party’s chief organiser Maryam Nawaz.

He was accompanied by Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party leader Awn Chaudhry.

Nawaz, who is contesting from NA-130, urged the masses to come out and vote as the country needs a one-party majority to bring stability.

“We rendered sacrifices to witness the day where we are today. We have to end this culture of abuse and indecency.”

The PML-N leader — eyeing a record fourth term in the 2024 polls — hoped that the poll would bring prosperity to the country which is facing grave economic and security challenges.

When asked to comment on the formation of a government after the elections and what would be his priority, Nawaz said a party must get the majority to rule independently without dependence on others.

“For God’s sake! Don’t talk about a coalition government. One-party majority is crucial for the country.”

Taking a jibe indirectly at his rival Imran Khan’s party, he said the country needs a healing touch.

He also highlighted the sacrifices of party leaders including Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz, saying they also spent time in jail.

Challenges after polls

If the election does not result in a clear majority for anyone, as analysts are predicting, tackling multiple challenges will be tricky – foremost being seeking a new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current one expires in March.

Unofficial first results are expected a few hours after voting closes at 5 pm and a clear picture is likely to emerge early on Friday.

Smaller political parties could play a crucial role in the formation of a government that will need 169 seats in the 336-member National Assembly. Voters directly elect 266 members while there are 70 reserved seats — 60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims —allotted according to the number of seats won by each party.

Independents, many of whom are being backed by Khan, are free to join any party if they win, which could swing fortunes after the vote. Khan has said his candidates will not back Sharif or Bhutto Zardari.

The elections also takes place under the spectre of rising militant attacks. On the eve of the election, two blasts in election offices killed 26 people in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

The country is on high alert, with the military deployed at polling stations. Tens of thousands of troops and paramilitary soldiers have been put on duty across the country. Pakistan also said it was closing its borders with Iran and Afghanistan for the day for security purposes.

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