PPP, PML-N strike power-sharing deal in Punjab

Party leaders say budget-related proposals reviewed thoroughly

RAMEEZ KHAN June 24, 2024
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (R), PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari responding to media queries at Zardari House in Islamabad on February 21, 2024. SCREENGRAB


Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) have hammered out a power-sharing deal in Punjab, signalling an end to their standoff over the national and Punjab budgets, as per parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly Ali Haider Gilani.

The PPP leader told The Express Tribune that the crux of the matter for both parties was the lack of a fair and equitable power-sharing arrangement in Punjab, leaving them feeling sidelined despite being a crucial partner of the central government.

Gilani disclosed that during the recent high-stakes meeting in Islamabad, attended by a PPP delegation led by former Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf, along with PPP General Secretary Punjab Hassan Murtaza and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

From the PML-N side, the delegation was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar. Other members present included the advisor to PM and provincial president, Rana Sanaullah, Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, and senior minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

Under the terms of the agreement, Gilani explained that districts, where the PPP holds a clear majority, will fall entirely under their control, whereas districts with a substantial presence of their party will see partial control.

Specifically, districts like Multan and Rahim Yar Khan fall in the former category, while Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh, Toba Tek Singh, Rajanpur, and Rawalpindi fall in the latter.

He added that funds will be evenly distributed among parliamentarians, both MNAs and MPAs, from PML-N and PPP alike. Development funds will also be allocated to their respective notables.

Moreover, he mentioned that bureaucrats would also be made aware of the importance of PPP in this alliance, underscoring the need to keep a tight rein on bureaucracy as it had the potential to destabilise the alliance if not managed carefully. However, he expressed confidence that both sides are fully aware of this risk.

Furthermore, he confirmed that PPP will have representation in various committees ranging from Zakat and Ushr Committees to market committees, district coordination committees, and DC and MC boards.

While in Multan and Rahim Yar Khan, all the aforementioned responsibilities will fall under their purview. Elaborating on this, he clarified that their nominated representatives will be part of the district coordination committees, whereas in these two districts, they will hold the position of convener.

Similarly, he mentioned their nominees will serve in all relevant authorities and boards, with their chairmanship over the Multan Development Authority boards being a key example.

He also stated they will have the right to appoint law officers both at the federal and provincial levels according to a mutually agreed formula.


Furthermore, they will nominate an expert of their choice to the search committee tasked with selecting vice chancellors for Punjab’s universities.

Regarding transfers and postings in districts with PPP’s presence, which includes 12 districts, decisions will be made in consultation with them, while in Multan and Rahim Yar Khan, it will be solely within their domain.

He noted that they have extended a similar power-sharing formula to Sindh, ensuring that any notable figures from PML-N will be treated equally.

However, he clarified that this agreement does not erase the ideological differences between the two parties. Despite being allies, they maintain distinct views on various issues, and this arrangement does not alter their respective party lines or positions.

He confirmed that PML-N has also endorsed this agreement, with the deputy prime minister expressing commitment to its full implementation. With this issue resolved, he assured that PPP will fully support the budgets at both the federal and provincial levels.

He emphasized that the discord arose not at the federal level but in Punjab, where they felt sidelined.

This agreement, he explained, was originally agreed upon before the formation of the current government, with their main concern being its faithful implementation. However, he acknowledged that recent adjustments had been made to the original terms.


‘No ministries yet’

However, Gillani clarified that the agreement does not include ministries, as the party has yet to decide on becoming part of the government. He explained that the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) will make the decision after the budget.


Regarding the party’s stance on this issue, he said nothing could be determined in advance.

Attempts to contact PML-N leaders for their perspective on the matter were unsuccessful.

However, a PPP leader regretted his party’s move, claiming that PPP Punjab has been misleading its leadership about the ground realities.

He argued that PPP Punjab was portraying its lack of administrative control as an inability to make any inroads in Punjab, whereas the situation was actually the opposite. He asserted that by joining the administration, the party would lose the minimal traction it has with voters.

Accepting insignificant positions would damage the party’s public image, making them appear as sellouts, he added.

He asserted that by joining the administration, the party would lose the minimal traction it has with voters. Accepting insignificant positions would damage the party’s public image, making them appear as sellouts.

He further warned that the party would not be able to bounce back by becoming PML-N’s subordinate team. Instead, he called for taking a strong stance against PML-N on the streets to win votes, rather than following an appeasement policy.

He accused some members of seeking power positions to line their own pockets.

Meanwhile, a source within PPP added that in addition to these agreements, it was also decided that PPP’s development schemes under the PDSP would not face budget cuts, while schemes, which are subject to IMF-mandated reductions amount to approximately Rs200 billion.

However, Hasan Murtaza, another committee member, offered a slightly different perspective, noting that both sides had worked out a multifaceted power-sharing formula that requires endorsement from both party leaderships.

Responding to queries about dissent within the committee, he conceded that while consensus had been reached at the committee level, final approval from the leadership was still pending.

When pressed on how a budget previously criticised as unfriendly and burdensome could be considered kosher simply by gaining more influence in Punjab, he clarified that the budget-related proposals had also been thoroughly reviewed, indicating that the agreement covered more than just power sharing.



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