The gridlock remains between Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over the issue of seat adjustments. Resultantly, both parties have decided that the issue should be resolved by PPP co-chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari.
A high-level PPP delegation met with PML-Q’s leadership in Lahore at Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s residence on Friday to resume talks on whether to contest the general elections as an alliance or via seat adjustments.
According to sources in both parties, senior leaders from both sides had agreed in their last meeting to contest the elections under a seat adjustment formula and not as an alliance.
Sources said PML-Q demanded a total of 55 seats in the National Assembly to be contested by PML-Q candidates in Punjab. But president of PPP Punjab, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, insisted that PML-Q should be given only 18 seats.
The PPP pointed out 14 constituencies of the NA which could possibly be won by PML-Q and suggested that these seats should be left for the PML-Q to contest. However, the party has asked its lawmakers to wait till further directions.
After PML-Q’s refusal to contest the elections as PPP’s ally and its insistence on its candidates contesting the 55 seats in the NA, PPP’s senior leadership has been forced to devise a new strategy.
A senior PPP leader who is a part of the negotiating team told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that nearly all PML-Q members had defected to other parties. He said that PML-Q’s demand of 55 seats was just to send a message to its disgruntled MNAs to stay with the party.
He said the issue of seat adjustments will be resolved by Zardari at the next meeting.
On the other hand, he said PPP also needed PML-Q at the centre to pass two bills in Parliament, including its proposed bill on the new Bahawalpur -Janoobi Punjab province.
He added that the delegation of the two parties also discussed the future of the NA-105 constituency of Gujrat, as Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has announced to contest the elections on that seat which is currently occupied by PPP’s Federal Minister for Water and Power, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar.
He said that PML-Q’s delegation also expressed its reservations over the role of Manzoor Wattoo, claiming that he was trying to persuade PML-Q MNAs to join PPP.
After the meeting, a statement was issued which stated that PPP and PML-Q had cleared the issue of NA seats and have decided that those candidates who contested the 2008 elections and never joined other political parties have been cleared for forthcoming ones by and large.
The delegation will meet again on February 15 to resolve the issue of provincial assembly seats.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.