PML-N, PPP may hit breakthrough today

Both parties likely to make ‘crucial progress’ for govt formation

News Desk February 18, 2024
Former finance minister Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: FILE


Amid the ongoing political stalemate, the PML-N on Sunday hinted that the government formation in the Centre was at a make-or-break point, saying a breakthrough was expected in its meeting with the PPP on Monday (today).

In a major step towards forming the federal government, PML-N senior leader and head of its coordination committee Senator Ishaq Dar said the final points had yet to be settled on various proposals between the two sides in the consultations that continued till Saturday.

However, he continued that “crucial progress” was expected during Monday’s meeting between the two parties.

Currently, the PML-N and PPP are trying to stitch together a coalition government as no political party was able to gain a simple majority in the recently held general polls.

Seeing the split mandate, the PPP has offered that it could help the PML-N form a government in the Centre. The PML-N is still reluctant to form a government without allies as it does not wish to first solely take the responsibility and later face the accountability alone.

The PTI-backed independent candidates managed to bag 92 seats in the National Assembly, followed by PML-N with 75, PPP with 54, and MQM-P with 17. However, the PTI has already refused to talk to the PML-N and PPP, leaving the two major political parties to move ahead and form the federal government.

Nevertheless, despite lacking the numerical strength and its frequent announcements that it would not forge an alliance with the PML-N and PPP, the PTI leadership continues to claim that it would form the government in the Centre and Punjab.

Following the general elections, both the PML-N and PPP had formed committees to decide the terms and conditions for the next federal government.

Initially, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was eyeing the slot of the premier but later not only he did he pull out of the race, but offered to give his party’s votes to the PML-N candidate for the premiership in exchange for key constitutional positions.

Bilawal had unequivocally announced and since been reiterating that his father, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, should be given the coveted slot of the country’s president.

The PPP also wishes to have constitutional offices including the Senate chairman, NA speaker and deputy speaker.

Although the PML-N candidate for PM slot was its supremo, three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif, the party later changed its mind. It decided to nominate its president and Nawaz’s younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, for the premier’s position to lead a new alliance being formed between different parties as the results of the elections that depicted the formation of a hung parliament.

Since then, the two parties have been busy discussing the modalities of the upcoming government and trying to reach policy deals.

The PML-N and PPP leaders have so far held four meetings and the fifth one is scheduled on Monday.
So far, the PPP leaders are sticking to the party policy that it would not become a part of the upcoming federal government but the PML-N is busy trying to persuade it to share the burden instead of simply sitting on the treasury benches as spectators.

After the fourth round of talks, the PPP leaders had shared with The Express Tribune that the PML-N was apparently dragging its feet on forming a government in the Centre despite their party’s assurances of unconditional support to it for this purpose.

They had further said that the ball was in the PML-N’s court as it had yet to give a response to the PPP’s proposals.

Senator Dar appeared to be more concerned about the leakage of information to the media and could not help but remind the leaders of both sides that they should not share details with anyone.

In a statement, Dar requested that the PML-N and PPP leaders should follow the rules laid down by their committees for holding the talks.

Read more: Another independent joins PML-N

He recalled that it was decided that no leader or member of the coordination committees formed by the two parties would comment on the ongoing process of discussion and the points taken up in it.

“Important progress is expected in tomorrow’s (Monday) meeting,” Dar said, saying a formal joint declaration of both parties would be issued after the consultations were completed.

He reiterated that it was inappropriate to discuss anything before the consultation process was completed as per the agreed procedure between the two parties.

The Saturday’s joint statement issued after the coordination committees of both parties met in Islamabad stated that a detailed discussion took place about government formation, adding that “significant progress” was made on various issues. However, the two sides will sit again on Monday to finalise the matters.

“The proposals put forth by both [the] parties were thoroughly discussed, and while substantial progress was achieved, further deliberations are required to finalise the matters at hand,” the statement read.

Highlighting the importance of a robust democratic government for Pakistan’s stability, the committee members concurred on the necessity of reaching a consensus.



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