PMLN, PPP mull give-and-take formula for govt formation

Ali Raza & Faizan Bangash & Asim Yasin
Monday, Feb 12, 2024

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: After the completion of general election 2024 results, major political parties intensified consultations and meetings for forging a coalition and forming governments in the Centre and provinces jointly.

In the first official contact between the PMLN and PPP on Sunday, the former offered the latter cooperation for the formation of future governments and the latter promised to discuss it in the central executive committee (CEC) of the party on Monday (today).

In the Sunday’s meeting held at the Bilawal House in Lahore, the two sides agreed in principle to cooperate for the country’s political stability following the general election. The meeting was attended by PPP-Parliamentarian President Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif from the PMLN. According to a joint statement issued after the huddle, the meeting was held in a cordial environment, which expressed commitment to putting the nation’s interest and well-being above everything. The leaders of both parties engaged in substantive discussions regarding the prevailing political landscape and the imperative of collaborative efforts for betterment of the country. They acknowledged the importance of establishing a framework for sustained political cooperation between the PMLN and PPP, laying the groundwork for a stronger, more united approach to addressing the challenges facing the nation.

The PMLN delegation included Azam Nazir Tarar, Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanvir, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Malik Ahmad Khan, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Sheza Fatima.

The joint statement said key points of discussion were the assessment of Pakistan’s overall situation, deliberations on future political strategies and the exchange of recommendations aimed at promoting stability and progress across the board.

Both parties affirmed their dedication to steering Pakistan away from political instability and towards a path of prosperity and resilience. The statement said that majority of people had given mandate to the two parties and they would not disappoint them. The leaders of two parties underscored their unwavering commitment to fulfilling the aspirations of people and ensuring their voices were heard and heeded.

The PPP committed to presenting the PMLN offer in its central executive committee (CEC) meeting on Monday (today).

Sources said during the meeting, the PMLN and PPP also discussed the upcoming Senate elections, to be held in March, and for the top slot of chairman Senate. The seat of PPP’s Yusuf Raza Gilani is also falling vacant while he has won a National Assembly seat from Multan. Gilani is currently the opposition leader in the Senate.

The meeting also discussed the Balochistan situation, where the PPP is leading and with the help of PMLN, it could comfortably form the government.

The PPP conveyed it would discuss the power sharing formula with the PMLN after the nod of party’s CEC. The PPP had nominated Bilawal as the candidate for PM’s post and most of the party leaders wanted the high command to either sit in the opposition in the Centre or finalise a good bargain with the PMLN over an important slot like the prime minister.

There are speculations that in case the PMLN did not agree to give Bilawal the PM’s slot, it could offer the offices of president, Senate chairman as well as ample share in Punjab and federal ministries. The PPP has 10 MPAs in Punjab and with at least one reserved seat, its strength would be 11, which is significant in a House where the PMLN and PTI-backed independents are going neck and neck. Both the PMLN and PTI backed independents claim to have won more than 135 seats. If the PMLN gains the support of few independents and eight MPAs of the PMLQ, which is most likely, it could reach the figure of 186 MPAs in the House. But at the same time, it has to confront a strong opposition.

Meanwhile, the PPP summoned its CEC meeting in Islamabad on Monday to decide on its future strategy. The meeting at the Zardari House would be jointly chaired by Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari.

The top leadership of the PPP would discuss different options and possibilities for the formation of a coalition government and contacts with other political parties for consultation on the formation of the government and also other options whether to sit on the opposition benches.

Sources said the PPP CEC would also discuss the PMLN’s offer to the PPP for cooperation for the formation of the government and also discuss PMLN suggestions which it gave in the Lahore meeting.

Separately, the PMLN and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP) leaders agreed on political cooperation for the formation of future governments on Sunday. PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif and Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui from the MQM led their party delegations.

The PMLN delegation included Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Rana Mashhood, while the MQM delegation included Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, Dr. Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal.

According to PMLN Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nawaz Sharif and the MQM leadership agreed in principle to work together for the benefit of the country and the nation, and in this regard, the main issues had been settled between the two parties.

She said there was a detailed consultation on the situation during the one-hour meeting and suggestions were exchanged. They took each other into confidence on the overall political situation and the developments so far.

Earlier, on arrival at Jati Umra, Nawaz Sharif and PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif, along with the party leaders, welcomed the MQM leaders.

However, soon after the meeting ended, MQMP Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said no talks were held about cooperation for government formation in the Centre. He also rejected reports that the party had demanded Sindh governorship in return for its support to the PMLN for making the next federal government.

Speaking to the media outside the Karachi airport on Sunday, he said neither the MQMP had engaged in talks or agreed with the PMLN over government formation nor it had placed any demands. He termed the news about the MQMP demanding governorship in Sindh false and baseless. He said that in the Lahore meeting, there was a discussion with Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of the PMLN to understand the current situation in Pakistan, which is caught in a whirlpool of crises and to find a solution.

The MQMP convener opined that all political parties and institutions of the country should put aside their personal and political interests and come together to pull Pakistan out of the crises.

“Today the need is to save democracy even if politics has to be sacrificed,” Siddiqui commented, adding that the issue was not about individuals’ power but about empowering the public and maintaining political stability.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Lahore General Secretary Wasim Qadir, who defeated PMLN stalwart Sheikh Rohail Asghar in the recent elections from NA-121 Lahore, joined the PMLN on Sunday. Wasim Qadir met PMLN Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz and formally announced joining the party. This was termed a big victory by the PMLN.

It may be mentioned that before joining the PTI, Wasim was part of the PMLN.

PMLN Lahore President Saiful Mulook Khokhar was also present.

Wasim Qadir expressed full confidence in PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif and said he was joining the PMLN after consultation with the people and friends of his constituency. Maryam Nawaz welcomed and congratulated Wasim Qadir.

Earlier, eight independent candidates of the National and provincial assemblies, who secured success in general election 2024, have so far announced joining the PMLN.

The PMLN leadership claims that a large number of winning independent candidates are contacting the party. Those who have joined the PMLN included Barrister Aqeel, Raja Khurram Nawaz, Mian Khan Bugti, Sardar Shamsher Mazari, Rana Muhammad Fayyaz, Muhammad Sohail and Taimur Lali.

Sources said PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif had been contacted by many independent members of the Punjab Assembly, while Jahangir Tareen was also contacting the independent winners.

Sources said the independent members with whom contact was established included Ghazanfar Chhina, Shahabuddin Sehar, Taimur Amjad, Ghazanfar Qureshi, Ali Raza Khakwani, Amir Muhammad Hassan Khaili, Jahanzeb Khan Khichi and Sahibzada Ghazeen Abbasi.

Two of the three major stakeholders PMLN, PPP and PTI-backed Independents have to make a coalition with each other to form the future government in the center.

So far, as per the party position, in National Assembly PTI-backed Independents got 93 seats, PMLN got 75 seats, PPP got 54 seats, MQM got 17, Independents 09, JUIF 04, PML 03, IPP 02, BNP 02, PML-Z, PNAP, BAP, PKMAP and NP got 01 seat each.

In Punjab, PMLN got 138 seats, PTI-backed Independents got 116 seats, Independents 22, PPP got 10 seats, PML 07, IPP 01, TLP 01 and PML-Z 01.

In Sindh, PPP got 83 seats, MQM got 28 seats, PTI-backed Independents got 11 seats, Independents 03, GDA 03 and JI 02.

In KPK, PTI-backed Independents got 84 seats, Independents 08, JUIF 07, PMLN got 05 seats, PPP got 04 seats, JI 02, PTI-P 02 and ANP 01.

In Balochistan, PPP got 11 seats, PMLN got 10 seats, JUI-F 10, Independents 05, Bap 04, NP 03, BNP 02, ANP 02, HDT 01, JI 01, RAH Haq 01 and BNP-A 01.

Although PMLN has emerged as the largest party in the national assembly, have been reports that the PPP has demanded the post of Prime Minister for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while PMLN has offered the PPP to take the posts of the President, Speker National Assembly and Chairman Senate.

There were also reports that the PPP will propose the name of either Raja Pervaiz Ashraf or Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as a Speaker National Assembly.

If this coalition (PMLN-PPP) materialises, then the PPP will support the PMLN in Punjab Assembly. PMLN will get the slot of Punjab Chief Minister while the PPP will get some ministries in the Punjab government while Pakistan Muslim League (Shujaat Hussain group) will also be given a ministry in Punjab.

The PPP, as per sources is also eyeing for the slot of Chief Minister Balochistan. In this case, the PPP will prefer making an alliance with the PMLN instead of JUIF as both these have 10 seats each and PPP has eleven seats.

Sources claimed that the PPP also wanted the post of Governor and will give the post of the Speaker Balochistan Assembly with the PMLN or with JUIF after finalization of an allaiance.

However, a highly placed source in the PMLN revealed that many party leaders were of the view that the PMLN should not get the slot of the Prime Minister of Pakistan as the party has already faced much damage during its previous 16-month government.

They were of the view that the economic conditions of the country were very fragile and whosoever will make the government at the center will have to take more tough decisions in the future, which will further put a negative impact on the political capital of the party.

It is further discussed that the fate of PTI-backed independents is not clear and it all depends that will they join a political party or prefer to remain independent.

Political pundits believed that in case the PTI-backed independent candidates remained independent then they can side with the ruling party without the fear of defection laws.

They said the situation will be cleared in the coming days and as soon as the President invites the political parties and independents to make government, the clouds will set aside.