PESHAWAR, May 12: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have set the power game in motion as their leaders agreed here on Sunday to discuss formulation of a coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Rehmat Salam (PML-N’s provincial general secretary) phoned me today and asked that we (leaders of the two sides) should sit together to discuss the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government formulation,” Abdul Jalil Jan, secretary information of JUI-F, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Dawn on Sunday.

He said the matter also came under discussion between JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N head Mian Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Jalil Jan said his party chief phoned Mr Sharif to congratulate him over PML-N’s victory in the May 11 election and during the course of their telephonic conversation the two leaders agreed to look into the possibilities of forming a coalition government in the province.

JUI-F emerged as the second largest party in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly after its 13 candidates returned successful in the Saturday’s election. PML-N has surfaced as the third largest single party in the provincial legislature elect with a tally of 12 members of the provincial assembly elect.

“We (JUI-F) will form the next Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government with the help of PML-N as we (his party) already have an understanding with Qaumi Watan Party (headed by former federal interior minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao) in this regard,” said Mr Jalil Jan.

His party, added the JUI-F leader, had developed a commitment with QWP at the time of negotiating the deal to form an electoral alliance for the May 11 elections.

The two parties fielded joint candidates on 16 constituencies in four Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts, including Swabi, Buner, Swat, and Charsadda. As part of their election alliance, QWP supported JUI-F’s Maulana Gohar Shah on Charsadda’s national assembly constituency NA-9 and defeated Awami National Party head Asfandyar Wali Khan in the Saturday’s polls.

A JUI-F leader from Charsadda, when contacted, told Dawn his party had developed close working relationship with PML-N in the recent past when the two sides held a series of meetings to form an electoral alliance for the May 11 polls.

“Though we (JUI-F and PML-N) could not form the election alliance, the discussions that took place between the two sides brought them closer, removing the gap between the heads of the two parties,” said Fakhr-e-Alam, general secretary of JUI-F, Charsadda.

He said JUI-F in association with PML-N and QWP could edge out Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, the single largest parliamentary group in the provincial assembly elect, in the race to cobble together the next coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr. Alam has reasons to believe in his party’s abilities to put together the next multi-party government in the province.

“We have got support of some of the independently elected members of the assembly after we supported them in the election,” said the JUI-F leader, who lost his bids to win on the provincial assembly constituency PK-21.

One such MPA elect is Israrullah Gandapur who has returned to the provincial assembly from Dera Ismail Khan’s constituency PK-67.

Days before the Saturday poll, Mr. Gandapur, a bigwig from Dera Ismail Khan, had told Dawn that his tribe was supporting JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in election for the national assembly constituency NA-25 in return for JUI-F’s support to him in the provincial assembly constituency.

The Saturday’s election produced a hung house in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The assembly elect also has a noticeable presence of a 13-men strong independently elected group of parliamentarians, setting the stage for the parties to hunt some of these independent MPAs to consolidate their individual standing in the House.

“We (JUI-F) have far better chances to put together the next coalition government in the province as compared to PTI because they (PTI) are inflexible and live in hibernation,” said Mr Alam. He said PTI did not have cordial or even working relationship with any other group.

“They can’t go with PML-N as well as Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians and Awami National Party,” said the JUI-F leader from Charsadda.

Nonetheless, there is, at least, one such political entity with which PTI might agree to coexist and form the next government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI chief Imran Khan and Jamaat-i-Islami have been maintaining identical stand on several political issues except for failing to agree to seat adjustments for the May 11 polls.“JI and PTI together hold chances to form the next provincial government with the help of some smaller groups in the provincial assembly elect,” said Mr Alam when asked about the two parties’ chances to reconcile and form the next coalition government in the province.

JI’s seven members have returned successful to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly elect in the recent polls.

Sensing its political significance as a game changer in the government formulation process, JI’s senior leadership is meeting here on Monday to review and discuss the post-election political scene in the province.