ISLAMABAD: The talks between PPP and PML-N to devise a power-sharing formula in the upcoming coalition government remained inconclusive, though both sides claimed “significant progress” in the discussions.

The third meeting between the Contact and Coordination Committees (CCCs) of the two parties, which took place on Saturday, remained inconclusive and both decided to meet again on Monday (tomorrow) to finalise the power-sharing formula.

A brief announcement issued by PML-N after the meeting stated that there had been “significant progress” in talks with both sides, stressing the need for a “strong democratic government”.

The PML-N was represented by Ishaq Dar, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Azam Nazeer Tarar and Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, whereas those representing the PPP included former Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah, Saeed Ghani, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nadeem Afzal Chan and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri.

In the last meeting on Thursday, representatives of both parties sought more time to assess the proposals discussed in the first meeting.

The PPP has assured PML-N of its support in the government formation and election of the next prime minister on the condition that, in return, it will get key constitutional offices, including that of the president.

The PPP has also announced that despite supporting the PML-N at the centre, the party will not take ministries in the federal cabinet.

Sources said the PML-N had been vigorously trying to change PPP’s minds on the issue of ministries before discussing the constitutional offices. The latter has so far refused to budge.

A PPP office-bearer, privy to the talk on government formation, told Dawn that the party has decided to seek the posts of National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman.

But the PML-N appears reluctant and wants to keep the NA speaker’s office with it, the PPP leader added.

The PPP has sought top offices in both houses of the parliament as the party feared that under the PML-N, parliament “would not be able to gain its lost prestige”.

PML-N’s past record in terms of meaningful legislation has not been good, the PPP leader said, adding that even during the Shehbaz Sharif-led PDM government, PML-N introduced several legislations in the parliament without prior consultations with coalition partners.

Sources in the PPP claimed that so far, the party had not finalised the names for the top constitutional and parliamentary offices.

They said that besides the present NA speaker, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who is expected to retain the post, ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who won the NA seat from Multan, also desires the post.

Mr Gilani previously held the office of NA speaker during the second PPP government under Benazir Bhutto from 1993 to 1996.

PPP has also asked the PML-N for support in Senate elections for the seat that Mr Gilani would vacate if he is nominated as NA speaker, according to party sources.

Mr Gilani could also be considered for the Senate chairman, but it all depended on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the committees.

The other issue, the sources said, under discussion at the CCCs was the allocation of development funds for provinces.

They said the PPP wanted assurance from PML-N leadership that it would release development funds to provinces, particularly Sindh, without any hindrance.

According to reports, PPP has asked PML-N to give it “some space” in Punjab as a precursor to any support in government formation.

In Punjab, PML-N emerged as the single largest party after the February 8 general elections with 137 general seats. The party has already nominated Maryam Nawaz Sharif as the new chief minister.

PPP won 10 seats of the provincial assembly and emerged as the third major party behind PTI-backed independents, who bagged 116 seats.

The issue of the formation of a provincial government in Balochistan is also being discussed between the two parties, as per sources. The PPP is the largest party in Balochistan, followed by PML-N. Interestingly, both parties are claiming to form their own government in the province.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2024

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