PPP-PML-N set to form coalition govt after power-sharing deal

News Desk
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

ISLAMABAD: In a breakthrough on Tuesday night after marathon meetings, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) finally secured a power-sharing agreement for a coalition government with Shehbaz Sharif to be prime minister and Asif Ali Zardari president for the next five years. However, sources claim, the PPP will not be a part of the federal cabinet either in the first phase or in the second.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif announced the long-awaited agreement at a press conference here.

Bilawal announced that Shehbaz Sharif will be Prime Minister and Asif Ali Zardari will be President for the next five-year term. Bilawal said the coalition has enough numbers to form the government. “The party which is present in the name of the Sunni Itehad Council (SIC) does not have the required numbers,” he said.

He said the PMLN-PPP coalition is going to form the government with Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister. Praying for the success of Pakistan, he said, “We are thankful to the PML-N for supporting PPP’s candidate Asif Ali Zardari who will be the joint candidate for president.”

Addressing next, PM’s nominee Shehbaz Sharif said the SIC does not have the required strength. “I am pleased to announce that the PPP and PML-N have sufficient numbers to form the government, adding they will continue (government) from where it was left.

Expressing gratitude to Asif Zardari, Bilawal and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz said the alliance will elect Asif Zardari as president for the next five years, adding, “I am also thankful to other allied parties MQM and PML-Q for their support as well as the PPP, and PML-N committees.”

He said the alliance has to revive the economy, fight against terrorism, and return the country to the path to prosperity. He said: “We have to eliminate the debt burden. This alliance brings together the young and the seasoned who will steer the country out of crisis.” He said the PPP had not demanded cabinet positions in Punjab.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari said their struggle is for Pakistan and to ensure prosperity for future generations. To a question, Shehbaz Sharif said the PPP did not ask for any posts or ministries. “As far as the issue of constitutional offices is concerned, we will settle them with consultations and consensus.” To a question regarding the 16-month experience of the PDM government, Shehbaz Sharif said they managed to avert the hovering threat of default.

Bilawal said: “Compared to the past, we have announced the coalition and made decisions with consensus very quickly as compared to the previous tenures.” He also expressed the hope that the news of the PPP-PML-N coalition government will elicit a positive response from the markets.

When asked who would be the Speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate, Bilawal said: “We have reached a breakthrough but will announce the offices later on as the people were not interested in these positions.” he said, adding they want the government formation process to complete.

To a question regarding PML-N leader Ishaq Dar’s nomination as Senate chairman, Bilawal replied that decisions were taken in the meetings, but they would be announced separately by each party. The leadership of both parties parried reply to the question whether the PPP would be part of the cabinet or not. However, the sources told The News that the PPP will not become part of the federal cabinet either in the first phase or in the second.

According to sources, earlier in a Tuesday night meeting between PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the residence of Senator Ishaq Dar, it was decided that the PPP will take the posts of the president, governors of Punjab and KP. Sources said the PML-N would nominate the governors of Sindh and Balochistan. It was also decided that the PPP and PML-N will have a coalition government in Balochistan while PPP will nominate its chief Minister.

The sources said the Chairman Senate will also be from the PPP while the Deputy Chairman Senate will be given to the PML-N. Sources said the Speaker of the National Assembly will be from the PML-N and PPP will have the Deputy Speaker. Against the bonhomie earlier in the day, Bilawal saw a stalemate in the talks in the formation of the government. He said the PPP is steadfast in its philosophy and if the other side is not ready to change its stance, a dangerous stalemate is expected which will not be in the best interests of democracy, economy, federation and political stability.

Talking to reporters outside the premises of the Supreme Court after attending the hearing of the presidential reference on the case of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP Chairman said: “If I have to give a vote to the PML-N, I will do it on my terms … I will not give it on the N League’s,” he said.