MQM-P wants four ministries as JUI-F also seeks role in Centre

Published February 22, 2024
Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori meets PML-N leader Ishaq Dar on Feb 21. — X/MIshaqDar50
Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori meets PML-N leader Ishaq Dar on Feb 21. — X/MIshaqDar50

ISLAMABAD: A day after the PML-N and the PPP evolved a consensus on a power-sharing deal to run the country for the next five years, a delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) called on PML-N representatives and demanded three to four ministries in the federal cabinet.

Sources said the MQM wanted the slot of the deputy speaker in the National Assembly, but the PML-N had already given it to the PPP. Now, the MQM is insisting on four portfolios in the federal cabinet since the party cannot have its deputy speaker.

In addition to its share in the cabinet, the MQM demanded legislation to empower the local government bodies, a demand long held by the Karachi-based party for devolution of powers.

MQM Punjab leader Muhammad Zahid told Dawn that the PML-N agreed to retain incumbent Kamran Tessori as the Sindh governor. “It has been agreed that Mr Tessori will remain the governor,” Mr Zahid said.

The MQM delegation was led by Mr Tessori and included Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal, whereas the PML-N side included Ishaq Dar and Ayaz Sadiq.

JUI-F meets PML-N

On the other hand, a meeting was held between the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the PML-N, in which the plan to form the provincial government, probably led by PPP’s Sarfaraz Bugti, was discussed.

Media reports claimed that Ishaq Dar had told JUI-F leader Abdul Ghafoor Haideri that the JUI-F was too late to come to the PML-N for a power-sharing deal in Balochistan. Mr Dar told the JUI-F leader that the PML-N had already made plans with the PPP for the government formation in Balochistan.

These reports, however, were denied by PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb. In a statement, the PML-N information secretary said that a meeting between the two parties was held on Wednesday and an official statement was also issued on it.

The participants of the meeting decided that the challenges faced by Balochistan demanded a “strong democratic government” in the province, she said. The meeting decided that it was in the country’s interest for various political forces to sit together in Balochistan. Marriyum Aurangzeb said the political ties between the two parties were based on mutual understanding.

Outlook for coalition

Insiders told Dawn the PPP would not join the federal cabinet and that the NA speaker slot would go to the PML-N as per the deal reached between the two parties.

They claimed that the Senate chairmanship would go to the PPP, with Senator Yousaf Raza Gilani being tipped as the next chairman. The governorships in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab will also go to the PPP, and the Sindh governorship will go to the MQM.

Sources said that the PML-N and the PPP would jointly form a government in Balochistan, and Sarfaraz Bugti “is so far” the most likely contender for the CMship. In the Senate, the PML-N will get the slot of the deputy chairman whereas in the lower house, the deputy speaker will be from the PPP.

According to Article 91(2) of the Constitution, the first session of the National Assembly has to be summoned by Feb 29. On the first day of the NA session, after taking oath, members will elect the speaker and deputy speaker through a secret ballot. Following this, the new speaker will announce the schedule for the election of the PM. In the 336-strong house, 169 votes are required for the PM’s election.

The election of the president will take place soon after the completion of the process of the government formation in the Centre and provinces as well as the Senate elections due in the first week of March. Incumbent president Arif Alvi’s five-year term expired in September last year but he is serving an extended period till the election of his successor.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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