Both sides resolve to save country from political instability n MQM team visits Sharifs’ residence; PML-N, MQM hold initial talks on power-sharing n Nawaz, Shujat meet today n Independents continue to join PML-N n PTI-backed Wasim Qadir switches loyalties to PML-N.
LAHORE - With a clear picture now emerging following the February 8 polls, the political wheeling and dealing gained momentum on Sunday when the leadership of three main parties held two separate meetings in Lahore to evolve consensus on a power-sharing formula aiming to set up coalition governments in the centre and the provinces.
The first meeting took place at Sharif’s Raiwind residence between the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and senior leadership of the MQM whereas the second such gathering took place at Bilawal House where the PML-N delegation led by party President Shehbaz Sharif called on PPP-P President Asif Ali Zardari and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The PML-N delegation included Azam Nazeer Tarar, Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Malik Ahmad Khan, Marrriyum Aurangzeb and Sheza Fatima.
A communiqué issued by the PML-N termed the meeting between the party President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP leaders as constructive as the two sides exchanged recommendations regarding the country’s future setup and agreed to meet again soon after seeking approval from their respective executive committees.
Key points of the discussion included the assessment of Pakistan’s overall situation, deliberations on future political strategies, and the exchange of recommendations aimed at promoting stability and progress across the board.
According to sources privy to the meeting, the PML-N delegation expressed its desire to lead the federal government with Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister and offered a significant share in the ministries to the PPP. Asif Zardari in turn told Shehbaz Sharif that he would place their proposals in the party’s CEC meeting and then get back to him in a few days.
The PPP has called its CEC meeting today to discuss the proposals presented by the PML-N regarding power-sharing in the center and provinces. Although the PTI-backed independents have emerged as the largest group in the National Assembly with 92 members, the PML-N is leading with 79 seats followed by the PPP having 54 seats, according to the provisional results issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The MQM has won 17 general seats while the JUI-F and PML are trailing with four and three members respectively.
The BAP, PNAP, MWM and PML-Z have one seat each while BNP has won two seats. Given this split mandate, the PML-N cannot form its government in the center without the backing of the PPP and other parties. Punjab, however, is an exception where the PML-N has secured a simple majority after the inclusion of independents. The issues relating to formation of governments in Punjab and Balochistan also came under discussion, according to the sources. In his conversation with the PML-N delegation, Asif Ali Zardari reportedly hinted at formation of a coalition government in Balochistan led by the PPP with the PML-N and all other parties having share in the ministries.
The PML-N said that the meeting was held in a cordial environment and the leaders expressed commitment to putting the nation’s interest and well-being above everything. The leaders of both parties engaged in substantive discussions regarding the prevailing political situation and the imperative of collaborative efforts for the betterment of the country. Reflecting a spirit of consensus-building, the leaders acknowledged the importance of establishing a framework for sustained political cooperation between the two parties, laying the groundwork for a stronger, more united approach to addressing the challenges facing the nation.
Both the parties affirmed their dedication to steering Pakistan away from political instability and towards a path of prosperity and resilience. Emphasizing the mandate bestowed upon them by the majority of the people, the leaders underscored their unwavering commitment to fulfilling the aspirations of the people and ensuring their voices are heard and heeded. Separately, in the meeting held between the PML-N and MQM leaders, Nawaz Sharif and Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui led their respective delegations. The PML-N leaders including President Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Maryam Aurangzeb and Rana Mashhood were also present in the meeting. The MQM delegation included Governor Sindh Kamran Tasuri, Dr. Farooq Sattar, Mustafa Kamal.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting held between PML-N and the MQM leaders said that the two parties discussed some basic points of political cooperation, and an agreement was reached to work together for the interest of the country and the nation. The consultations between the leaders of both the parties continued for about an hour. In the meeting, there was a detailed consultation on the situation and suggestions were exchanged. The PML-N leaders also took the MQM delegation into confidence about their contacts made with the independent candidates. Earlier, on their arrival in Raiwind, Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif along with the party leaders welcomed the MQM leaders.
Later, addressing a press confdrence in Karachi, MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui rebuked the reports suggesting the party’s demand for Sindh governor post for joining hands with the PML-N. He called for political stability while rebuking media reports claiming that the party is engaged in talks with the PML-N over the issue of government formation. Commenting on his party’s interaction with the PML-N leadership in Lahore, Siddiqui, in a press conference in Karachi, categorically denied demanding the post of Sindh governor for the MQM-P.
Meanwhile, the meeting between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was postponed. PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shafay Hussain said Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was going to Islamabad to hold a meeting with PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif on Monday. Earlier, a PML-N delegation led by Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to meet Ch Shujaat Hussain in Lahore on Sunday. Shafay said Shujaat Hussain would hold meetings with PML-N leadership and other parties in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, in a major setback to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), a newly-elected MNA from Lahore, Wasim Qadir who was backed by the PTI announced to join the PML-N after a meeting with Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Sunday. Previously associated with the PPP and the PML-N, Wasim had recently joined the PTI and was also the general secretary of party’s Lahore chapter. He had defeated PML-N stalwart Sheikh Rohail Asghar from NA-121, Lahore.
The development has shocked the PTI leadership which had earlier taken the position that the candidates who had won assembly seats with their party’s support would not change their loyalties in any situation. Qadir the first PTI-backed newly-elected MNA have joined the PML-N. Wasim Qadir called on Maryam Nawaz Sharif at Raiwind along with newly-elected MNA and PML-N Lahore president Malik Saiful Mulok Khokhar and expressed full confidence in the leadership of PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif.