Polls becoming PPP vs PML-N blocs’ affair

ISLAMABAD  -  The February 8 general elec­tions are increasingly becom­ing a bloc versus bloc affair as the top parties – the Pakistan People’s Party and the Paki­stan Muslim league (Nawaz) – prepare to win magic num­bers in the national and provin­cial assemblies with the help of allies. This does not mean that the two larger parties cannot be co­alition partners a few days after the February 8 polls. Both parties have not ruled out any such op­tion as seemingly no party is in a position to win 172 or more seats in the National Assembly and majority in the provincial assemblies likewise.

Only the PPP in Sindh and the PML-N in Punjab can expect to win majority in the two provincial assemblies but that also needs to be seen as PPP faces challenge from an alliance and the PML-N also has to contest against so many parties in Pun­jab. PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari has predict­ed that the PPP and the PML-N might need each other when the results are finalised at the end of the polls. For now, the two parties are forming blocs against each other. The PML-N was the early bird, as it tried to win the smaller parties in Sindh and Balochistan. The PPP is also now in the race as Zardari directed his party leaders to contact smaller parties for alliance and seat adjustments.

Yesterday, the PPP Negotiations Committee, led by PPP Secretary General Syed Nayyar Bukhari, held a meeting to discuss the political landscape and the upcoming elections. Discussions involved strategic engagement with national and provincial figures with tasks assigned for scheduling crucial meetings. The meeting was attended by Faisal Kareem Kundi and Muhammad Ali Bacha doyj Qamar Zaman Kaira par­ticipating online. As the nation goes to the elections, it will be the PPP bloc versus the PML-N bloc and after the polls, it may again surprisingly be the PPP bloc in coalition with the PML-N bloc to form a government.

Zardari is happy to expect such arrangement but is optimistic to lead the government this time un­like the previous 16-month coalition government led by the PML-N. The PPP supremo believes that if the PPP and the PML-N fail to reach a power-shar­ing formula, the PPP might form a coalition govern­ment with the help of smaller parties pushing the PML-N on the opposition benches. The PML-N how­ever, thinks on the contrary. The return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has boosted the chanc­es for the PML-N and he has been instrumental in placating the smaller parties to contest as a bloc.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Sindh, Jamaiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) in Khyber Pakhtunkhaw and Balochistan Awami Party in Balochistan are seen as key allies for the PML-N. The main challenges for the PML-N are Sindh and Balochistan. In both these prov­inces the PPP has an influence. While Sindh is a PPP stronghold, Zardari has close ties with several Baloch leaders who can possibly support the PPP in the polls. The nation awaits which bloc will rule the country for the next five years or will it be a coalition govern­ment shared by the two blocs following a fierce con­test in the elections - a marriage of convenience.

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