PPP settles for seats in Punjab cabinet

Published May 8, 2022
PPP parliamentary delegation calls on Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP parliamentary delegation calls on Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) seems content with three ministries in Punjab and does not appear to be pushing the PML-N leadership for the governor’s and speaker’s slots, which the latter is keen on keeping for itself.

PPP’s Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood, who was earlier nominated for the governor’s post by his party, is reportedly upset with the decision.

In the first summary Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sent to the president on April 17, he had recommended the name of Mr Mahmood as the Punjab governor. However, when President Dr Arif Alvi returned that summary after holding it for 15 days without a decision, the premier re-endorsed the advice on Saturday asking for the removal of incumbent governor of the PTI, Omar Sarfraz Cheema, and appointment of a PML-N loyalist from Bahawalpur, Balighur Rehman.

Citing the Constitution, the PML-N says if President Alvi does not act on the premier’s recommendation within 10 days, Mr Rehman will automatically become the governor. “The prime minister has sent a summary to the president recommending my name for the Punjab governor. And hopefully the president will accept the summary,” Mr Rehman, who remained a minister in the Shahid Khaqan Abbasi cabinet, told Dawn.

“Before the allied parties took over the government, the PML-N had agreed to give the slot of the governor to the PPP, but after coming to power it backtracked. The PML-N is known for this kind of politics,” a source in the PPP said.

Foregoes speaker, governor offices; PM forwards PML-N loyalist’s name to president for governor

On Saturday, Opposition Leader in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Adviser to the PM Qamar Zaman Kaira and Punjab Assembly parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza of the PPP called on Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz here and discussed the power-sharing formula in the province.

“The meeting discussed the PML-N and PPP top leadership’s arrangements with regards to power sharing in Punjab. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had withdrawn his party’s earlier claim on the Punjab governorship on the wish of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif,” a party insider told Dawn. He said the PPP had also withdrawn its claim on the Punjab Assembly speaker’s office since the PML-N was not too keen on giving this important office to an ally that had only seven seats in the House.

As per the latest understanding between the two parties, the PPP delegation forwarded the names of its three MPAs to CM Hamza for their induction into his cabinet, which is yet to be constituted. The formation of a new provincial cabinet has been delayed till the removal of Governor Cheema after his stated stance that he would not administer the oath to office-bearers in an “illegally constituted government”.

The insider said the PPP probables for the cabinet were Hasan Murtaza, Mr Gilani’s son Ali Haider and Makhdoom Usman Mehmood. The party has also suggested the names of Shazia Abid, Ghazanfar Abbas Langa and Raees Nabeel for parliamentary secretaries of various standing committees. PPP Punjab information secretary Shahzad Saeed Cheema could be made adviser to the chief minister.

“Besides, the PML-N has also assured the PPP of giving it some positions in various departments in Punjab,” he said, adding the PPP had also been promised the Senate chairman’s slot in the future scheme of things.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Qamar Zaman Kaira said the party leaders had come here to congratulate Hamza upon assuming the chief minister’s office. “Since we have to go along together (in the government) we held consultations on various matters. As in the Centre, in Punjab too we will go along with mutual consultations,” he maintained.

To a question about power sharing in the province, Mr Kaira said: “Along with power sharing, we will be burden-sharing as well.”

Mr Gilani said: “Everything” had already been settled between the two parties in the London meeting between party chairman Bilawal and PML-N supremo Nawaz.

Amir Wasim adds from Islamabad: When contacted, PML-N leader Baleeghur Rehman confirmed that he had been nominated by his party and the prime minister for the office of Punjab governor. Mr Rehman said that he had been informed that a formal summary regarding his appointment had been sent to President Arif Alvi.

Mr Rehman, who had served as the minister for education in the previous PMLN government, expressed the hope that the president would act in accordance with the constitution and would not unnecessary delay his notification.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2022

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