ISLAMABAD - Smaller parties are demanding too much share as the major parties approach them for seat adjustments. Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) is leading the race to find seat adjustment partners but is also reluctant to give a nod to their ‘unrealistic’ demands. The Pakistan People’s Party is less interested in seat adjustments and has so far been serious only with the Awami National Party. PML-N’s alliance with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) is cemented but its seat adjustment plan with the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and other parties is half baked.
PML-N believes the smaller parties, especially the IPP, were asking for too much share which would damage the party’s own bid to capture maximum seats. PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif recently met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The primary objective was to formulate a collaborative strategy for the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8. They delved into comprehensive discussions, emphasising the development of a joint approach to secure success in the imminent elections. The meeting held added significance due to the role of Maulana Fazlur Rehman as the head of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance, which became instrumental after ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2022.
Reports indicated that the PML-N and the IPP had reached a consensus on seat adjustments for various National Assembly and provincial assembly seats but IPP had sought a huge share. The MQM-Pakistan is actively engaged in planning seat adjustments with larger political parties such as the PML-N, JUI-F, and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in Sindh. The MQM-P aims to capitalise on concentrations of support in urban centers, particularly Karachi and Hyderabad, while also extending its influence beyond traditional strongholds. Last week, PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari ruled out possibility of seat adjustment with any political party in general elections 2024.
The PPP Co-Chairman held a meeting with party’s Punjab leadership in Lahore and deliberated on PPP’s strategy for upcoming general elections. Rejecting possibility of seat adjustment in the province, Zardari said that PPP will contest the upcoming general elections “on their own.” He claimed PPP was receiving multiple requests for party tickets from every constituency, vowing to award ticket to “strongest candidate”. The PPP leadership also decided not to go for seat adjustments with PML-N in the upcoming general election and termed it a ‘loss trade.’ After the Election Commission of Pakistan officially announced the general elections on February 8, political parties are intensifying discussions and negotiations for seat adjustments.
The political landscape is witnessing intricate alliances and collaborations as parties vie for strategic advantages in both provincial and national assemblies. The main issue for the major parties is to appease the smaller parties with a reasonable share as they finalise the seat adjustments deals. Although political pundits do not see any party winning a majority, the PML-N is optimistic to achieve this goal. The PPP also eyes to become the single largest party but it does not expect a clear majority. The major parties will likely need the smaller ones to form governments in the centre and the provinces after the February 8 polls.