Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has been keeping the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on its toes with its recent anti- government campaign – and it’s planning to extend its strategy to the upcoming elections with ongoing efforts for a grand alliance.
The main opposition party is still keeping communication lines open with fellow opposition parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as well as government allies, in line with its strategy.
“Yes, we are reaching out to opposition parties as well as allies of the ruling PPP,” PML-N Deputy Information Secretary Khurram Dastgir Khan said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Dastgir said officials from his party were engaged in talks with other parties, but added that the process had not reached the level of formal talks yet.
“If informal contact produces some results, we will gradually move towards formal ones,” he added. The parliamentarian from Gujranwala said that his party was also in touch with some of the government allies.
Earlier this month, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, after the Supreme Court’s decision to convict Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the contempt case, had announced that the party will approach other parties to build up pressure on the government through a grand alliance. In this regard, the PML-N forged an alliance with a breakaway faction of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) called ‘Likeminded’ – headed by Salim Saifullah Khan and Hamid Nasir Chattha.
The PML-N has also allied itself with former Sindh Chief Minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto’s Sindh National Front (SNF).
The Likeminded involves a deal with the PML-N, where the latter had pledged 11% of the seats in the National Assembly. Mumtaz Bhutto had merged SNF with the N-league.
Speaking in Lahore last week, Nawaz said that the PML-N would contact all groups for a grand alliance, even the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
In response, the MQM had hinted at entering into talks with the PML-N, saying “it (MQM) never closes doors for negotiations.”
Imran Khan’s PTI has also launched an anti-government movement, and following the PML-N’s open invite, it demanded mass resignations from assemblies as a prerequisite for negotiations with the party.
When asked about the status of talks between the PML-N and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the deputy information secretary of the PML-N said “yes, we are in contact and talks are in their initial stages.”
The contacts between the two were also confirmed by JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch.
PTI and JI both boycotted the 2008 elections and have no presence in any of the assemblies currently.
According to a top official of the party, Sharif has made an offer to Imran Khan, saying that his party will resign from the assemblies at the “appropriate time”.
Such grand alliances have previously shown a fair amount of success. The Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) of the late ‘70s helped topple Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) shook the military ruler General Ziaul Haq in the 80s, while the notorious Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) of the early ‘90s played a big part in seeing Benazir Bhutto’s first government out of office, and then defeating it in the polls.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.