PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s proposed ‘grand alliance’ against the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) got a second boost on Saturday with the announcement of a seat-adjustment agreement for the next elections with the PML-Likeminded.
The general secretaries of both parties signed the agreement at Raiwind, according to which the PML-N will give 11% of national and provincial assembly seats to Likeminded candidates. The issue of party symbol – whether Likeminded candidates will contest elections using PML-N’s tiger – will be decided later.
Insiders added that both parties have also agreed to woo more Muslim League factions.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sindh National Front chief Mumtaz Bhutto had formally announced the merger of his party with the PML-N, giving the latter a major boost in Sindh’s electoral politics.
Talking to the media after signing their agreement, Likeminded’s General Secretary Humayun Akhtar Khan and his counterpart from PML-N, Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, said, “The vote-bank of Muslim Leagues has been united to defeat the PPP in the upcoming elections.”
“According to the agreement made between the two parties today, 30 general seats in the National Assembly will be allotted to Likeminded in the upcoming elections,” Akhtar said.
He said the same percentage of general seats will allotted to Likeminded for all provinces, adding that allocation of reserved seats for women, minorities and the Senate will be based on other terms.
According to sources, however, Nawaz has agreed to allot 13, not 30, seats in the national and provincial assemblies to Likeminded candidates.
Strengthening the Leagues
The PML-N chief met with Likeminded’s Chairman Hamid Nasir Chattha for the first time after 1993 to devise a strategy on strengthening the Leagues.
Sources said Chattha has been tasked to convince PML-Q’s former and sitting ministers in the federal cabinet to defect to the PML-N. The PML-Likeminded is a breakaway faction of the PML-Q.
Sources added that Nawaz and Chattha agreed to form a grand alliance, led by the former, against the PPP-led coalition government.
Since the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, the PML-Q leaders, are least likely to join this alliance, sources said that Chattha has been tasked to continue his litigation against Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and seek his disqualification from the party post.
Chattha, while talking to The Express Tribune, confirmed that he would convince sitting PML-Q lawmakers and ministers to join the grand alliance. Only a politics of alliance would oust the PPP-led coalition government, he said.
Chattha added that formation of ticket-awarding parliamentary boards would be discussed later.
Sources said that Chattha and his colleagues were not ready to rely on Nawaz over several issues.
Likeminded’s candidates are not sure if they would be awarded tickets to contest the election by Nawaz, if the party merges with the PML-N, sources said.
Nawaz had refused to award party tickets to many aspirants at the eleventh hour, they said, citing the case of Humayun Akhtar, who barely got a ticket in the 1996 elections, and his younger brother Haroon, who was denied a ticket in the 2012 Senate elections.
If the PML-N betrays Likeminded, they would announce an alliance with some other political party, sources added.
The group had entered into negotiations with PTI Chairman Imran Khan last year to discuss a possible alliance. The talks broke down though after Imran asked Likeminded leaders to join his party.
Likeminded’s Punjab chief resigns
Likeminded’s Ata Manika, in protest, has resigned from his party post as president of the Punjab chapter following the party’s alliance with the PML-N, Express News reported.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called him from London, assuring his utmost cooperation.
Talking to the media, Manika said that despite playing a pivotal role in forming Likeminded, the party leadership did not even consult him regarding the decision to form an alliance with the PML-N.
However, later in the night a Likeminded delegation managed to win back Manika who then lent his support to the agreement with PML-N.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.