Still in the process of finalising its exact strategy for the election of the leader of the house, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to put forward a candidate for the race.
In the meanwhile, the PML-N has begun reaching out to other parties in Parliament to garner support against the ruling party.
The nomination is more symbolic than anything else – given that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition has a comfortable majority. The nominee for the leader of the house would require the votes of 172 lawmakers from the 342-member National Assembly.
However, the move will likely be used as an occasion to galvanise a fractured opposition, and even approach some PPP allies.
The PPP is not the only party holding a spate of meetings. The PML-N is said to have held several rounds of talks with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PPP-S chief Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, as well as dissident members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
In fact reports suggested that the PML-N had also approached government ally the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Sources said over two dozen sitting members of the Parliament from the PML-Q were involved in negotiations with the PML-N days ahead of the Supreme Court verdict and are likely to contest in the upcoming general elections from the N-league.
PML-N has hinted at proposing former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi as its candidate for prime minister. However, the decision can be changed if some sort of joint strategy is agreed to with other opposition parties.
“It all depends on the outcome of negotiations. The opposition’s candidate does not necessarily have to be from the PML-N,” said a source privy to developments. “Abbasi would be the last option if others fail to reach a consensus.”
PML-N’s information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan said: “We will talk to all the parties, the allied partners of the government as well as with opposition groups.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2012.
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