Michael Kugelman, a specialist in South Asian affairs at the Wilson Centre in Washington, has suggested that following elections, a multi-party coalition is likely to form the government, akin to what occurred after the removal of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), Kugelman indicated that while the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) has garnered public support for governance, the composition of the next ruling coalition is expected to resemble the previous one, led by the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) and PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party), alongside smaller parties.
His assessment comes amidst reports of the PML-N emerging as the largest single party post-elections, along with meetings between the leaders of the PPP and MQM-P, signaling potential cooperation for political stability.
Kugelman highlighted that while the PTI has shown resilience, it is likely to move into the opposition. Challenges include maintaining support from independently-elected candidates and finding coalition partners amid pressure, particularly from the military, which may seek to isolate the PTI.
Despite claims by the Imran Khan-led PTI of forming governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and at the federal level, the majority of seats in the National Assembly were won by independent candidates backed by PTI, according to provisional results from the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The PTI alleges widespread rigging, necessitating efforts to form a coalition and potentially resorting to legal action for relief. However, Kugelman suggests that even if some results are overturned, it might not significantly alter the situation.
He also pointed out the discomfort within the PTI about aligning with bitter rivals like the PPP, indicating a possibility of the PTI resigning to the opposition, anticipating a weak and short-lived next government.