ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif does not seem to be in a hurry to appoint his cabinet apparently realising the fragile nature of the ruling alliance, and wants to take along all his allies, particularly those who joined the former opposition after quitting the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) coalition government.

Sources in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) told Dawn that the leadership of both parties had decided to accommodate all allied parties in the federal cabinet and give them the ministries of their choice.

They said the ruling coalition comprised eight political parties and four independents, and since Mr Sharif had become the prime minister with a mere two-vote margin, he did not want to start his stint in office with any misunderstandings among the allies.

The sources said the PPP, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, had told Mr Sharif that they had no desire to join his cabinet and wanted to support him from the outside. However, Mr Sharif is insisting the party join him.

PML-N, PPP want to take along all allied parties, give them ministries of choice

Talking to reporters at an Iftar- dinner, Mr Sharif said he hoped the PPP would join the cabinet.

“We know the fragile nature of our alliance and we want to see the present government succeeding. We don’t want to give an impression that we have come to power only to get some portfolios or to enjoy perks and privileges,” said a PPP leader, adding: “We want business.”

The PPP leader, who is privy to the consultations on cabinet formation, said Mr Sharif was insisting they join the federal cabinet, as he was of the view that if the PPP remained out of it, it would send a wrong message to the public.

Talking to a private TV channel, PML-N MNA from Faisalabad Rana Sanaullah, who accompanied Mr Sharif during his meetings with the heads of all the allied parties, said the new cabinet would be formed in the next couple of days with a consensus.

Mr Sanaullah claimed that during the meetings with Mr Sharif, the allies had not made any demands, rather they had asked the premier to tell them how they could facilitate him.

The PML-N leader said when they were planning to table the no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan, the first task before the joint opposition was to rid the nation of the “incompetent” PTI government and, therefore, they had not discussed any formula for the distribution of ministries after forming a government. However, he said, it was decided at that time that they would make all the decisions with a consensus.

It may be recalled that the PPP is divided over the issue of joining the federal cabinet under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

A senior PPP leader said they were more interested in getting constitutional offices instead of cabinet portfolios. He said two constitutional offices had already fallen vacant after the resignations of the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker, while they were also planning to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. The PPP was interested in the speaker’s office, the Senate chairman and even the Presidency, as they were expecting a resignation from Dr Arif Alvi.

The sources said the PPP had earlier finalised the name of seasoned parliamentarian Syed Naveed Qamar for the office of the speaker, but now the name of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was also under consideration for the same.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022

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