KARACHI, Feb 26: The Pakistan Muslim League-N, PML-F and National People’s Party have agreed in principle to forge an electoral alliance that could include other political, religious and nationalist parties, and prepare a joint strategy to field one-to-one candidates in the coming general election against the ruling coalition.

The decision was announced by PML-N president Nawaz Sharif and PML-F chief Pir Pagara after an over two-hour meeting of leaders of the three parties at the Kingri House on Tuesday.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and Salim Zia from the PML-N, Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, M.A. Durrani and Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh from PML-F, and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi and Masroor Jatoi from the NPP also took part in the talks.

Mr Sharif, who had arrived here earlier in the day along with key leaders of his party, visited Illahi Bux Soomro to offer condolences on the death of his son and the family of late Jamaat-i-Islami leader Prof Ghafoor Ahmad before arriving at the Kingri House.

Talking to reporters, he said he had held talks with Pir Pagara’s father a few weeks before his death and Sadruddin Rashdi had brought a message to him in Lahore about moving together in the future.

He said it was a matter to rejoice that Pir Pagara had decided to honour his father’s wish — to rid Sindh of the clutches of those who were planning to hoodwink them and steal the election through manipulation.

Without naming the MQM, he said that a coalition party, after remaining in government for four years and 11 months, had declared itself as an opposition party to deprive the genuine opposition of its constitutional right to the post of leader of opposition in the Sindh Assembly. He alleged that the move was aimed at installing a handpicked caretaker set-up in Sindh to cover “misdeeds of the rulers and steal the election”.

Mr Sharif said the leaders had decided to join hands with all opposition parties and approach the Supreme Court and the Election Commission for change of all governors appointed on a political basis and transfer of all administrative officials who had been posted to rig the election.

They urged the Election Commission to take effective measures to implement its rules and regulations and make the ruling parties comply with all its decisions.

The PML-N leader said President Asif Zardari had failed during his five-year rule to do anything over unemployment, poverty, economic derailment and law and order.

He said targeted killings, extortion and disturbances in Karachi were now a matter of routine and investors were fleeing to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Europe.

He said the GDP growth rate had dropped from eight per cent during his rule in 1999 to 2-3 per cent, but the government was proud of having completed its term despite the deterioration all around.

He said it was a good augury that a system had been established under which governments would be formed and sent home through the popular vote only.

He said no one could dare postpone the polls. “Those who had come from abroad and staged a long march and sit-in are nowhere now.”

In reply to a question, he said there was no harm in holding talks with Taliban for sake of peace.

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman is striving to pave the way for peace and we all want peace in Pakistan, including Karachi. Let us wait for the outcome of his efforts.”

Pir Pagara claimed that now the PPP did not exist in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “Hence it is striving to win the election in Sindh by hook or by crook.”

He said those who had been in government till yesterday were now claiming to be in the opposition to help install a favourable caretaker set-up.

He said that in the current circumstances it depended on Sindh to put the country on the road to progress or deterioration.

The PML-F chief said he would like to appeal to the chief justice and the army chief to ensure an inquiry into the recent countrywide electricity breakdown to ascertain whether it had been caused by a technical fault or was meant to convey a message to the people by someone capable of doing this.

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