Zardari ‘demands PM’s slot for Bilawal in return for supporting PML-N in Punjab’

  • February 11, 2024

PML-N kicks off discussion with PPP for formation of federal, provincial governments

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (right) and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. — Facebook/@ppppbalochistan
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (right) and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. — Facebook/@ppppbalochistan
  • Bilawal claims no govt can be formed in Centre, Punjab sans PPP.
  • Shehbaz informs about contacts made with various parties.
  • MQM-P delegation travels to Lahore to meet Shehbaz.

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/SUKKUR: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif told his party leaders that former president Asif Zardari has demanded prime minister’s slot for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and major ministerial portfolios, The News reported citing sources.

In a major development, the PPP has agreed to make a coalition government with the PML-N on the condition that Bilawal will be made the PM.

Shehbaz told the party leaders that Zardari offered, in exchange, the PPP would support the PML-N to make its government in Punjab.

The News has learnt from the PML-N sources that former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif met former president Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal on Friday night and discussed the future coalition. Party sources said on Saturday the PML-N leaders had discussed different options for making the future government in Centre as well as in Punjab.

In this regard, a meeting of PML-N leadership was held on Saturday, which was headed by Shehbaz Sharif. The meeting was attended by Senator Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Attaullah Tarar, Khawaja Imran Nazir and others.

The PML-N president discussed various options for government formation in the meeting. It was discussed in the party that though the PML-N had emerged as the largest political party in the country yet it can’t form the government on its own and needs the help of other political parties or independent candidates.

Party sources claimed the PML-N leadership was in a shock as the election results were completely different from their expectations. They said Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders were overconfident and the party leadership didn’t pay much attention to public rallies, door-to-door campaigns, mass public campaigns and direct contacts with voters, especially on election day.

Party sources added that so far making a coalition with Zardari was the first option the PML-N was exploring but didn’t want to give away the slot of prime minister.

Sources claimed the meeting decided that in case the negotiations with PPP failed, the PML-N would make a coalition government with MQM, JUI-F and other smaller parties, including independents and electables. They further claimed that in this scenario, PML-N will make Shehbaz Sharif the prime minister and Maryam Nawaz the Chief Minister of Punjab.

However, the party leaders were directed to think of more options for future formation of the government in the Centre, Punjab and Balochistan.

The three largest parties, PML-N, PPP, and the independents affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are in the running to form the next governments following the February 8 general elections, as the announcements for election results by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are almost complete.

The PML-N on Saturday initiated the discussion with the PPP for the establishment of federal and provincial governments. Whereas, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan asserted that the president would grant his party the opportunity to establish the federal government as they had the backing of the greatest number of MNAs-elect. On the one hand, an MQM-P delegation travelled to Lahore to meet with PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif and other party officials.

Bilawal claimed on Saturday no government could be formed in the Centre as well as two provinces — Punjab and Balochistan – without the support of his party.

The PML-N consultation committee on Saturday held an important meeting to discuss the consultation process with like-minded parties for the formation of governments in the Centre and provinces.

Shehbaz presided over the meeting, which discussed issues related to government formation. He informed the meeting about the contacts made with various parties on the instructions of Nawaz Sharif. The party leaders congratulated the party president on his victory in the February 8 elections. Senator Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Attaullah Tarar and Khawaja Imran Nazir attended the meeting.

On the other hand, PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari said no one could form governments in the Centre, Punjab or Balochistan without his party’s support, and PPP’s door was open to every political party for dialogue, as reconciliation was vital for political stability.

“So far, the PPP has not engaged officially with PMLN, PTI or any other party. Once the results are finalised, then the Central Executive Committee of the party, which nominated me as the candidate, will sit again and devise the course of action,” he said while responding to questions by panels of journalists on various private television channels. Responding to a question on meetings with political counterparts, Chairman Bilawal further said he was in no position to confirm any such meeting. “This is the preliminary stage; the PPP is still waiting for the results to be confirmed. The decisions of independent candidates are also awaited. We will be in the position to engage with other political parties, be it the PMLN, PTI or other independent candidates after the results are finalised,” he said.

The PPP chairman said it was in the interest of the country that “we forge a political consensus on the way forward in the Central Executive Committee of the party.

“We will try to forge this political consensus and would like to bring some positive change for the people of the country. If the government is formed, then we will not be able to solve problems of people without addressing the political toxicity,” he said.

Responding to a question, he said there had been no contact with Barrister Gohar so far, as the PPP was waiting for the counting to conclude. “We are in contact with certain independent candidates. As far as the PTI bloc is concerned, no contact has been made,” he said.

In a reply to another question, Bilawal said according to the current numbers, the chief minister of Punjab would not be successful without the PPP votes. He said the result so far showed that the PPP was the only party with representation in all four provinces. “The PPP is the party linking all four provinces,” he added.

Bilawal said Nawaz Sharif made his speech in haste. “He too should have waited for the finalised results as us, but it is ultimately his and his party’s prerogative,” he said.

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