• PML-N, PPP representatives to continue talks over modalities of power-sharing today
• PPP sticks to its stance of not joining cabinet
• PTI claims, PPP denies ‘contact’ with Zardari

ISLAMABAD: ‘New-old partners’ in the prospective ruling coalition spent a busy Wednesday poring over the modalities of their power-sharing agreement, as a number of names emerged for key constitutional positions that would be doled out to the alliance’s component parties, chiefly the PPP and PML-N.

Stalwarts from the two parties put their heads together to discuss the finer points of the power-sharing agreement, while PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari chaired a meeting of his party’s contact and coordination committee ahead of its rendezvous with their counterparts in the PML-N.

A PTI leader, meanwhile, claimed to have been approached by PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari to seek their support to form a coalition government, a claim which was denied by the PPP.

It was all but confirmed on Tuesday that Shehbaz Sharif would be the next prime minister and Mr Zardari would head to the Presidency.

It has now emerged that former speakers Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani have shown an interest in re-taking the position, sources said.

A source in the PPP said that although Mr Gilani has won a National Assembly seat from Multan, Mr Zardari has asked him not to vacate his seat in the Senate to join the National Assembly.

Although Maryam Nawaz has been nominated for the post of Punjab CM, three names have also come forth for the coveted office of Sindh chief minister, with PPP leaders Faryal Talpur, Nasir Shah and Murad Ali Shah all in the hunt.

Consultations

According to representatives of both the PPP and PML-N, members of their respective contact and coordination committees held a consultative meeting, in which proposals on lowering inflation and unemployment and poverty alleviation were discussed.

Both sides also agreed on the need for a stable democratic government in Pakistan to deal with economic, political, legal and security challenges, a PPP statement said.

Both sides are also due to meet again today (Thursday), a huddle that is expected to feature PML-N representatives from other provinces as well.

PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi told a private TV channel on Wednesday that the party was sticking to its stance that it would support the PML-N in forming the government, but will not become a part of the federal cabinet. This approach has already invited protestations from PML-N notables such as Rana Sanaullah and Ahsan Iqbal.

Talking to DawnNews, PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah said the PPP will not go for federal ministries, but would prefer to take up the chairmanship of standing committees in the National Assembly.

“The ministries which will go to the PML-N, we will go for those standing committees,” he said, adding that committees are more powerful than ministries.

Zardari’s offer to PTI?

Separately, PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat claimed on Wednesday that PPP leader Asif had attempted to reach out to the PTI through ‘middlemen’

 PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat speaks to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

“The party’s leadership held a discussion over [Zardrai’s move] last night. The PPP hinted that the PTI can get its seats back under the due process of law,” Mr Marwat said.

He said he would discuss the offer in a meeting with PTI founder Imran Khan at Adiala Jail today (Thursday).

However, PPP’s Kundi rejected the PTI claims, telling Geo News: “If this is the PTI’s official stance, then a serious person should come forward and talk about it.”

The PPP leader said that the PTI was resorting to “making things up” after realising that there was no way for it to form a government in the Centre. “If we had reached out to the PTI, we would have done it through proper channels,” he added.

Summoning next NA session

According to Article 91 (2) of the Constitution, the president is duty bound to summon a fresh session of the National Assembly within 21 days of polling day, i.e. by Feb 29. On the first day of the session, members will take oath, while the election of a new speaker and deputy speaker will take place on the second day. A leader of the house will be elected on the third day.

In the same vein, Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on Wednesday said the inaugural session of the new National Assembly would be summoned in accordance with the law.

“I need to sign the summary for the NA session as I also hold the portfolio of minister for the parliamentary affairs,” Mr Solangi said while responding to reporters’ queries outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The minister said the ECP was required to issue official results within 14 days of the elections, in accordance with the law.

“The last date for convening the NA session is February 29 and it can be summoned on any day before it,” he said.

To a query, he said legal forums were available for redressal of grievances regarding elections and justice should prevail if any violations were committed. Those who had complaints in that regard should reach out the legal forums for justice, he added.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

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