High-level talks: PML-N invites JUI-F to join coalition at Centre

Fazl’s party undecided; wants to be part of Balochistan govt as well.

PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif (Left) and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman (Right) speak to the media after their meeting in Islamabad on Thursday. PHOTO: INP


Despite securing a simple majority in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday formally invited Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to join the coalition at the Centre.

Maulana Fazl met with a PML-N delegation at his residence on Saturday where the two sides discussed the JUI-F’s possible role in the Balochistan government and its share in the federal government. While the PML-N was willing to settle on the latter, it was noncommittal on the demands made by Maulana Fazl to be a part of the coalition government in Balochistan, sources told The Express Tribune.

“The decision to join or not to join the government in the Centre will be taken by the party’s executive committee which is still discussing the matter,” the JUI-F chief told reporters after the meeting. He said the PML-N leadership would be informed about the committee’s decision.

The PML-N delegation comprised Senator Raja Zafarul Haq and MNA-elect Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry. Senator Haq told journalists that both sides were willing to work together as an alliance and only modalities remained to be decided.

JUI-F’s central committee has advised Maulana Fazl to demand being a part of the coalition government of headed by PML-N in Balochistan. Some members have advised him against joining the central government if Nawaz Sharif refuses to accommodate his party in the provincial government, sources said.

Maulana Fazl is said to have demanded the chief minister slot for his party in Balochistan. Senator Haq said JUI-F’s demands would be conveyed to his party’s leadership who would then take the final decision, sources added. “If we agree on an alliance with the PML-N in the Centre then we would definitely like it to widen to other areas but these are just ideas which we are still discussing,” he added.

Asked why he was keen on joining a coalition headed by the PML-N in the Centre, Maulana Fazl said his party has always worked for the interests of the people. “What is the secret of being an ‘evergreen’ politician? Because I’m a serious politician and my party does serious politics, not jokes,” the JUI-F chief said.

Asked why the PML-N was willing to make the JUI-F part of the coalition, Senator Haq said, “The country is facing multiple problems and we want all parties to join us in finding solutions to them.” Any alliance with Fazl was the result of this policy of PML-N, he added.

Separately, Fazl said that his party would not interfere in the formation of the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but warned that if the winning parties did not form a government, then the JUI-F would do so.

He was speaking at a reception arranged by the party in Peshawar for the winning independent candidates of the province.  “We are aware of our constitutional obligation and if any party fails to form the government we will not let the deadlock occur,” he added.

PML-N leader Sardar Mehtab Khan, who was also present at the reception, said all parties had to put aside their differences to work to steer Pakistan out of its current crises. “It is not a matter of only one party, rather all leaders will have to join hands to steer this country out of the current quagmire faced by the country and province,” Khan said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.


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