The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is sharpening plans to seek snap polls ahead of Senate elections early next year in a ‘panicked but calculated’ response to an emerging political alliance apparently aimed at stealing its Punjab stronghold.
A power-sharing deal between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid has reportedly triggered unease within the PML-N, prompting the party to seek a parallel electoral alliance with some other groups.
PML-N officials told The Express Tribune on Friday that their party would soon initiate negotiations with the religious and nationalists’ parties in Balochistan and Sindh.
Nawaz Sharif, one of his associates said, had already set up a ‘core group’ of the party’s top leaders including Raja Zafarul Haq, Ishaq Dar, Mehtab Abbasi and Iqbal Zafar Jhagrha for this purpose.
And more significantly the party had also decided to hit the roads with a demand for snap parliamentary polls before the provincial assemblies could re-elect half of the Senate members next March.
The PML-N would almost be reduced to ground if the polls for the upper house of the parliament are held under the current equation in the provincial legislatures. The party doesn’t have any representations whatsoever in Sindh and Balochistan.
Both Islamic parties and nationalists have in the past been allied to the PML-N when the party remained in power for a couple of times in the 1990s.
“Our alliance is natural…we are going to revive it ahead of the next elections,” a top party leader said referring to 90s affiliation with parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) of slain Baloch chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti.
The alliance, another official said, was going to be on the same lines Sharif was able to establish ahead of the general elections in 1990 that ultimately inflicted defeat on the PPP led by slain former premier Benazir Bhutto then.
The alliance was known as Islami Jamhoori Ittehad.
“It is going to be bigger and more vigorous this time,” the official said of the new alliance.
Already there have been enough evidence that the alliance being finalised by President Asif Zardari and Chaudhrys of Gujrat is aimed at depriving Sharif’s PML-N of what was a comfortable majority the party won in 2008 general polls at least in the central Punjab, its stronghold.
The PML-N chief has also signalled at accepting back in the party some of the leaders who betrayed him to join Pervez Musharraf after the 1999 coup.
According to officials, Ejazul Haq and Humayun Akhtar are among those who might be accepted in the PML-N.
Those leaders of the PML-Q who are opposed to its deal with the PPP would also be accepted in the party, according to the officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2011.