LAHORE: The meetings between PML-N and PPP bigwigs in the United Arab Emirates have reportedly resulted in a consensus on a number of issues, including names for the caretaker set-up and a power-sharing formula if the two parties win the next election.

The top leaders from both parties, including PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, met more than once throughout the week to decide the next general election’s date, among other things. The meetings were also attended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, PML-N senior vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, a source told Dawn.

The return of Mr Nawaz to Pakistan was also discussed as the law minister briefed him regarding the status of his court cases in light of the bill to undo lifetime disqualification was passed by parliament.

There are speculations that if all is settled regarding “relief in his convictions” Mr Nawaz may return on Aug 14.

Dubai huddles discuss date for polls; Nawaz to return on Aug 14 ‘if things go his way’

After the meetings, Mr Zardari, PM Shehbaz and the law minister returned to Pakistan while Mr Bhutto-Zardari left for Tokyo. Mr Nawaz, who arrived from London, is likely to stay in the UAE for one more week to hold political and business meetings.

Among the things discussed in the meetings, date for the next general elections appeared to be the only issue where both parties had differing opinions.

PML-N has been giving mixed signals about whether polls would be held in October or not, but PPP has categorically stated it wants elections at stipulated time.

“The stated position of PPP is that elections should be held in October after the incumbent government completes its tenure this August,” PPP senior leader and prime minister’s special assistant Qamar Zaman Kaira told Dawn.

He said there had been no ambiguity on polls’ date after the prime minister made a categorical statement in this regard.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, PM Shehbaz said his government’s tenure would end next month and the Election Commission of Pakistan would give the date for elections.

Whoever wins the polls would have to serve the people and steer the country out of the economic quagmire, the premier added.

A reported reason behind PPP’s clarity on the polls’ date is that Mr Zardari is keen to see his son as the next prime minister. Mr Zardari was also expected to discuss seat adjustment with the PML-N in Punjab for the next general elections, a PPP leader told Dawn.

“He would definitely want the PML-N to consider supporting a few big PPP names in some Punjab constituencies. What he [Mr Zardari] would offer to Mian sahib [Mr Nawaz] in return, we don’t know.”

Earlier, a source told Dawn the future of Imran Khan’s PTI would also come up for discussion and whether the party should be allowed to contest elections to legitimise the process or keep it out of the ring.

“There was a complete understanding between the two before May 9 on the strategy against the PTI, but now that Imran Khan is no longer relevant to the upcoming elections, at least in the PDM’s view, both sides are playing their cards carefully to grab a bigger share in the future set-up,” said a PPP leader.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2023

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