The general elections of February 8 pulled many surprises, the least of which was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) managing to win the largest number of seats despite not having a symbol or even a party.

But another surprise was the poor performance of supposed front runners, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Although the party managed to get 79 seats, it still fell way short of expectations.

So what is the party thinking now? More importantly, what is party head Nawaz Sharif, welcomed back in October 2023 with much fanfare, going to do?

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According to veteran journalist Nusrat Javed, Nawaz is not going to do much. Talking on Public TV, Nusrat Javed said that Nawaz has shut himself off from nearly everyone and can only be enticed to come out for meeting major players, including Asif Ali Zardari. Nusrat Javed said that Nawaz is no longer interested in becoming a Prime Minister once again. “Mujhay kyon bullaya” is the mantra, said Nusrat Javed.

However, a party insider told DAWN that Nawaz is still very much in the running for become the Prime Minister for a fourth term. “As of now, Nawaz Sharif has not been ruled out as a candidate for the PM’s slot. Since the PML-N has to lead the federal coalition, many within the Maryam Nawaz camp feel why shouldn’t [the elder Sharif] take the driving seat,” the insider told DAWN.

The party’s senior leader and one of Nawaz’s close aided, Khwaja Asif, has said that the former Premier is not disappointed with the results of the election in which PML-N did not manage to get a simple majority, leaving it at the mercy of a buoyant PPP for forming the government.

Talking on Geo News, Asif said, “We are aware of the shortcomings but will fulfil our promise of giving relief to the masses after coming into government.”

He also expressed caution about the power-sharing formula that is being talked about, with PML-N ruling for three years and then PPP taking over for the remaining two.
“It would be unwise to hand over the government to another party after bringing stability,” he remarked.

So there you have it. What the PML-N ultimately decides to do is still unclear. Perhaps we will know more as the days unfold.

‘What a joke’; PTI’s Khosa on PMLN’s two PM plan

PTI’s Latif Khosa, who won in Lahore against PML-N’s Khwaja Saad Rafique, has said that the only party poised to form the government is PTI as they are the clear winners of the February 8 general elections.

Commenting on PML- N and PPP’s reported plan to ‘share the Prime Minister slot’ if they make an alliance, Khosa said, “What joke is being done with democracy?”

“Who are they — who have been rejected by the people — to divide among themselves…No Assembly or Parliament can function without Imran Khan.”

He also added that since PTI was a registered party, the winners should not be called Independents, should be given reserved seats and allowed to make the government with Imran Khan as their leader.

Khan is currently in jail, serving sentences in three cases.

Not a good idea to hand over government to another party after three difficult years:  Khawaja Asif

PML-N senior leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif has rebutted alleged claims that Nawaz Sharif was despondent after the February 8 election result not adding up in the party’s favour.

While speaking with Shahzeb Khanzada on a Geo News program on Monday, Asif asserted that “We are aware of the shortcomings but will fulfil our promise of giving relief to the masses after coming into government. PTI is habitual of crying foul after every election,” adding that PPP has also accepted the results.

He claimed that independent candidates are joining PML-N by choice and that the party is not offering them any bribes.

A crucial meeting with MQM, according to Asif, went well. The veteran politician said that while Karachi has problems related to water and terrorism, Nawaz Sharif has solved the problems of the city before.

He also stated that the party will make Punjab an example as to how the government should be run in the provinces while admitting to the shortcomings and promising to provide service and relief to the people.

Pointing towards PTI, he said the party has a pattern of delaying every election. PPP, on the other hand, has accepted the election results and PML-N’s seats have started to increase, whereas independent candidates want to come join on their own.