Thinking ahead: PML-N’s game plan

Published: May 13, 2013
Sources say he is contemplating whether the PML-N should try for a coalition government or instead let the PTI try and rule.

Sources say he is contemplating whether the PML-N should try for a coalition government or instead let the PTI try and rule.


The Centre and Punjab are firmly in the grip of the PML-N’s tiger. It is also likely that it will form a coalition government in the province of Balochistan. Even in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI has scored its biggest gains, the PML-N may end up forming a government if it plays its cards right. 

Preliminary meetings, attended by the top echelons of the PML-N have already been held to put these plans into action, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune.

PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has been confined in his Jati Umra residence, brainstorming with the senior party leadership as well as some trusted senior bureaucrats to sketch out a plan of action regarding the future political course of his party.

This is what the plan looks like so far: in Punjab, the PML-N will go solo to form a government as it has a solid two-thirds majority.

The picture in the Centre is also encouraging. Out of the total 272 general seats in the National Assembly, 136 are required to gain the simple majority needed to form a government. The PML-N currently has 130 seats, and only needs six more to secure the prime ministerial slot; certainly not a difficult task, to say the least. According to Senator Tariq Azeem, the PML-N won’t even need to ally with a party to gain these seats, as independents are likely to flock to their side.

But according to reports from Raiwind, Nawaz Sharif is keen on the PML-F also joining his government in the Centre. The PML-F’s Pir Sadruddin Shah, who enjoys good personal relations with the Sharifs, will likely be well accommodated as well. It is also likely that some allied Baloch nationalists will be given positions in the Center as well, with the aim of making the government appear as inclusive as possible.

K-P government

Where this province is concerned, it seems the PML-N chief is in two minds. Sources say he is contemplating whether the PML-N should try for a coalition government or instead let the PTI try and rule.

Under the 18th amendment, the party which has a majority in the house has to be invited to form the government but this time Nawaz is contemplating making the government in K-P with coalition partners due to certain reasons.

The PML-N’s fear is that if the PTI makes a government in K-P, then it will give a tough time to them as far as dealing with the war on terror is concerned, as well as on the conflict in the tribal areas and relations with ISAF and Afghanistan. They said that due to the strategic location of K-P, Nawaz can’t afford any opposition, obstacle or intervention from a PTI-led government in the province when dealing with these issues. Party members have suggested to Nawaz that if he opts to try for K-P, then he has to reach out to the JUI-F, JI and other parties as well as independents. And in fact, that process has already begun, as Nawaz has reportedly made phone calls to JUI-F and JI chiefs and has called a party meeting on Monday at Raiwind where this issue will be discussed.

Balochistan government

The other issue which has been finalised was that nationalists will be taken on board in this province.

The party discussed choices for chief minister of Balochistan, but one problem is how to resolve the tussle between Sanaullah Zahri and Akhtar Mengal, after the killing of Zehri’s relatives.

Senator Pervez Rashid officially urged the election authorities to immediately announce the withheld results from the province. He said there is lot of confusion and unrest in the province and no party is in the position to decide about the future government. He said withholding polling results may spoil the transparency and neutrality of the election.

The new who’s who – a work in progress.

Nawaz will almost certainly be prime minister, and there is talk of a former ambassador as foreign minister.

After the Raiwind meeting concluded, Senator Ishaq Dar has started already started his work his work as de-facto finance minister while sitting in his office in Lahore’s Model Town.

After finalising the cabinet list, speaker and deputy speaker, the party is expected to ask for an NA session. This should happen within about 10 days.

Not smooth sailing all  the way

It’s not all hunky dory just yet; while the PML-N controls the NA, it remains subservient to other in the Senate. Here, the PPP has 41 seats in the 104-member house against the PML-N’s 14.

This means that it can still face daunting challenges when trying to pass any legislation because every new law routes through both houses of Parliament separately before getting a final nod from the president. To pass a law, a simple majority is needed while a constitutional amendment needs a two-thirds majority in both houses.

If the PPP stays in opposition, it along with any of the other parties that would be sitting on opposition benches in the Senate can give a tough time to the PML-N in terms of passing legislation. This would be a reversal of the scene of the 90’s when the PPP faced exactly this problem.

However, if the PML-N opts to ally with the PPP it would have serious political implications given the abysmally low popularity graph of the PPP.

The PML-N will gain some Senate seats from Punjab in the 2015 Senate elections based on its increased strength in the provincial assembly. This, along with seats from Balochistan and K-P, will augment its strength, but it would remain short of getting a simple majority in the Senate.  Seems a spot of reconciliation will be needed to smooth the legislative gears in the years to come.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Truth teller
    May 13, 2013 - 3:54AM

    Game plan:more corruption and more wealth in Dubai and UK


  • Hasan
    May 13, 2013 - 4:00AM

    Shoddy, poorly written article.

    What kind of phrase is ‘hunky dory’ to use in a political bulletin? It’s embarrassing when journalists and reporters use inane expressions like these without any idea of how appropriate they are for the subject matter.

    In addition to that, I’m getting increasingly tired of the ‘stock photos’ that accompany most reports – is it really that hard to send photographers out with reporters to get pictures? Or at least pay freelance journos for a relevant shot? It would make a pleasant change from a handful of bullets for each report about gunfights, or a ballot box jpeg for every article about the elections, etc.

    Come on ET, show the rest of the world you know how to operate to an international standard.



  • Usman
    May 13, 2013 - 4:11AM

    He has no game plan, he was just in power, nothing has changed in Pakistan.


  • Ali
    May 13, 2013 - 5:48AM

    Indeed KPK is a difficult situation, so far PML-N is not on its position as far as terrorism is concerned, but have rightly identified “Economy” as number 1. PTI is already claiming to be in a position to form a government, the ground realities does not allow them to unless they form a coalition. If PML-N forms the government it will give PTI a point scoring chance, people of KPK really wanted a chance that is what is expected of PTI. Since as a political party it will be the first time they will be in government, it is any ones guess in which direction they will head. Forming a coalition government means compromises, too many compromises. No easy situation for PML-N.


  • Ammar K
    May 13, 2013 - 6:06AM

    we are doomed under this man’s leadership who came to power thru backdoor and rigged elections.


  • Humayun
    May 13, 2013 - 6:18AM

    I have been talking to my Karachi friends. Post PML (N) sucess, they fear another military led operations targetting Urdu speaking Karachities and they are also not optimistic about any support from PML(N) led government. I just hope they are proved wrong in that.

    One of the friends commented, why don’t we hold elections in Punjab only and then let rest of the Pakistan know about the outcome !


  • Humayun
    May 13, 2013 - 6:28AM

    Singapore’s TV channel ‘News Channel Asia’ decribed Nawaz in its headline news as ‘Former Prime Minister and Steel Tycoon’.


  • Mohammad abbas
    May 13, 2013 - 7:10AM

    I congratulate to nawaz sharif. Now nawaz has a lot challenges a head in order to develope the country. It’s not that easy. Unfortunately, every field of of life and system is corrupt or broke up due to the past bad management. There is a good sign that pti is a 2nd strong party in Pakistan and will watch nawaz sharif game plan. Nawaz can get a lot feed back from Imran khan in order to put the country right path. Pakistan nation is very emotional. if nawaz will not fix problems they can change their mind quickly.


  • asim
    May 13, 2013 - 8:09AM

    @Truth teller:
    Dont forget his factories and assets in Saudi and other parts of the world


  • Amir
    May 13, 2013 - 8:29AM

    Law & Order
    Power crisis
    Bringing harmony in K-P, Sindh, Balochistan
    Due rights to minorities
    Build consensus with opposition to solve main issues of Pakistan.

    But honestly with PML N basking in a heavy mandate, I feel NS will be back to his old shenanigans…


  • PakArmySoldier
    May 13, 2013 - 10:07AM

    If PML-N forms government in KPK that would amount to stealing mandate from PTI. I say go for it, so they could fail comprehensively, not just in Punjab and at the federal level.


  • KM
    May 13, 2013 - 10:37AM

    another corrupt gov. and more suffering for people of Pakistan for next five years just wait and see.


  • aaaaa
    May 13, 2013 - 11:45AM

    Let pti form government in KPK. Respect their mandate.


  • Hasnain
    May 13, 2013 - 12:18PM

    I dont think centre will not interfear in Karachi and look towards Sindh Government. With PPP not in need of MQM, there is no excuse of compromises for them. The post election behavior of MQM is a testimant to this fact. Now the real test of PPP starts whether its sincere for peace in Karachi or not.


  • Sunoo Na Sunoo
    May 13, 2013 - 12:29PM

    Don’t hurt the feelings of the people of KP, let PTI form the KP government.


  • Rana
    May 13, 2013 - 12:46PM

    PTI’s dream of making the country dance club is over!


  • Abc
    May 13, 2013 - 12:47PM

    I feel sorry for imran khan. KPK is possible the most dangerous and hard to govern province. I wonder who will make government there.


  • Zaigham
    May 13, 2013 - 12:49PM

    PTI exists on social Media & Face book… Mushraf……


  • Haider
    May 13, 2013 - 1:12PM

    I am a supporter of PMLN.. but I request Mr. Nawaz Sharif to please respect PTIs mandate in KPK.. We now have to think about Pakistan.. And please do something about MQM.


  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 2:44PM

    It would be good strategy to let PTI form government in KP. If it succeeds, it will benefit the whole of Pakistan and possibly serve as a model for other provinces. If it fails, at that time, a non-PTI government would become more acceptable to the people of KP and then that government could well be formed without irresistible opposition.


  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 6:04PM

    The latest is that NS has said he recognizes the mandate of all and would like the PTI to form govt. in KP. Well, now that shows NS is learning from his past mistakes. Good for him.


  • May 14, 2013 - 1:59PM

    PML-N leadership including Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif have said that they are OK with PTI forming govt in KPK. That’s why PTI is able to take JI and QWP on board.


  • Waqar
    May 27, 2013 - 10:09PM

    The guy and his team lack vision required for the progress of Pakistan. “Progress of Pakistan” is something they are least concerned with, they are pushed to work because of the restlessness created for them by IK. Their previous track record shows that they always fail to set priorities in their work and most of their budget goes to oblige the oblige the specifics and is no use for the general. Pakistan needs a leader who keeps vision and also the desire to work for the country. Unlike those who have to perform under obligation to perform.


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