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Sardar Mehtab Khan. - YouTube video grab.

ISLAMABAD: Will the main opposition party, the PML-N, be able to torpedo the PPP’s attempt to bring in another prime minister of its choice when the lower house of parliament meets to elect a new leader of the house on Friday?

The PML-N has offered support of its 92 members of the National Assembly to any other party, except the PPP, including those sitting in the coalition, for the election of a new prime minister.

At a consultative meeting at Punjab House on Wednesday, the party’s leaders decided that the PML-N would contest the election for the leader of the house on its own in case no other parliamentary party agreed to their proposal.

Although the PML-N has not made an announcement in this regard, party sources said Sardar Mehtab Khan, a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and MNA from Abbottabad, would be its candidate.

“The PML-N has invited all coalition partners of the government to agree on another candidate, apart from the PPP, to bring the country out of current crisis, to ensure elimination of loadshedding and holding of immediate, transparent and fair general elections,” a press release said. The meeting was presided over by the party’s president, Mian Nawaz Sharif.

If this suggestion was endorsed by other parties, the PML-N would give a positive response, it said. A senior PML-N leader told Dawn that the party wasn’t really excited about the election of the new prime minister, but had decided to take chance, “and see if it can attract other parties sitting in parliament with its 92 MNAs”.

In the house of 342, the winning candidate needs to bag 172 votes, a simple majority, “which the PML-N cannot manage without the support of the PML-Q (50), MQM (25), ANP (13) and JUI-F (8),” said the PML-N leader. “And as of today, all these parties are very much with the PPP, which has 124 MNAs,” he said. There are 17 MNAs who had won election as independents.

“We just want to let other parties, excluding the PPP, know that the PML-N is very much open and if they forge a collective stand, our party will not field its own candidate and will vote for the joint candidate who can be from any other party,” another PML-N leader said.

“Yes, on the face of it it looks a far-fetched calculation, but one must not forget there is no final word in politics,” answered another PML-N leader when asked if the party was serious about the election.

The party’s deputy secretary general said: “We have offered all parties a simple three-point agenda -- implementation of SC orders, ending loadshedding and selection of an impartial caretaker set-up for early general elections.

“I have met Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, Senator Ishaq Dar talked to MQM leaders and some leaders of the PML-Q, excluding the Chaudhry brothers, have also been conveyed our message at a personal level.”

He said if the coalition parties again stood with the PPP, they would stand exposed and be held responsible for the sufferings which people had been undergoing since it came to power. According to the press statement, the PML-N leaders said the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify the prime minister was a victory of law and justice.

The meeting also reviewed the financial and energy crisis, criticising the government of prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for mismanaging the country.

“PPP’s confrontation with judiciary has placed the country in multiple crises putting its security, stability and solidarity in jeopardy,” the statement said.


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