LAHORE, June 16: The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Jamaat-i-Islami agreed on Saturday to initiate joint efforts to form a grand electoral alliance for the next general election and combat the prevailing challenges including conspiracies being hatched to undermine the judiciary.

“As the country faces major challenges, the formation of a grand alliance of democratic forces is the need of the hour. And we (the PML-N and the JI) have agreed to start making efforts with immediate effect to form a grand alliance to deal with the challenges,” Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told a press conference at Mansoora after meeting JI chief Syed Munawar Hassan.

Shahbaz visited the JI headquarters after a long time. The JI leadership had distanced itself from the PML-N after it decided to contest the last general election, violating the All-Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) decision jointly taken by its around 32-member parties including the PTI to boycott the ballot.

“We have agreed to form a grand alliance in which all opposition parties including the PTI will be asked to join hands to meet prevailing challenges like conspiracy against judiciary, electricity/gas loadshedding, corruption, timely and transparent elections etc,” Shahbaz said while responding to a question that how the JI agreed for a grand alliance despite having serious reservations about the PML-N leadership.

Flanked by PML-N Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal, the CM, in presence of JI Chief Syed Munawar Hasan and secretary-general Liaquat Baloch, said the grand alliance would ensure timely and transparent general elections, protect judiciary and combat other challenges.

Answering a question, he said the PML-N had no way except to protest the government bid to get the federal budget passed.

He said the two parties had also agreed to hold meetings within next couple of weeks in order to follow up the decisions taken at Saturday’s meeting.

The JI chief said both parties had agreed to mount pressure on the government to hold transparent general election through an impartial interim government. He said the alliance would deal with all current and future challenges including the Balochistan issue.

“We have also decided to constitute committees which will work for making a grand alliance,” he added.

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