TOBA TEK SINGH: The party that joined the PML-N in forming the incumbent coalition government had first approached the PTI, but were turned down, PML-N stalwart Rana Sanaullah said.

In an interaction with journalists on Eid day, the former interior minister said that the PTI could have formed a coalition government after the elections, if they wanted to.

“But they [PTI] do not believe in it… their stance is that we are not going to sit down, talk or compromise with any other party.”

“If the PML-N did not form a government, what would have happened? No one else was ready to do so. The PTI, which was in second place with 92 members, was not ready to talk to anyone. If they were ready to talk, PPP was ready to form a government with them,” he claimed.

Says govt will reach out to former allies who have joined PTI-led opposition alliance

Referring to the PTI, he said that if a political party adopts a stance that they did not want to talk to or work with other parties, then the country would definitely fall prey to anarchy.

Mr Sanaullah claimed that even within the party, one man — ostensibly a reference to Imran Khan — did not allow difference of opinion to thrive, while others leaders were perhaps “amenable to working alongside other political forces”.

Drawing a parallel, when asked about his absence from key party meetings in the recent past, Mr Sanaullah said that in the PML-N, differences of opinions do exist, but people abide by the party’s decision. In his view, he said that government offices should only be held by those who were elected representatives.

He said that as the party’s president in Punjab, he had attended all important meetings in the recent past and the impression that he had distanced himself from party matters was incorrect.

Talking about a grand opposition alliance that is in the offing, he said that the government of the day should always seek to take the opposition along.

Referring to Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he said that they were allies of the PML-N in the recent past and that the government would try to remove their grievances and not allow a gulf to develop between the two.

In an off-the-cuff remark when asked about his successor, Mohsin Naqvi, Mr Sanaullah said that he, Faisal Vawda and Anwaarul Haq Kakar “belonged to the same tribe”. When a journalist opined that Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb was also “from the same clan”, Mr Sanaullah chuckled and responded: “Yes, you can call him their cousin.”

When asked if they were under pressure to include members of “this tribe”, Mr Sanaullah said a coalition government has several constraints, “some of which can be mentioned and some cannot”.

Responding to a question regarding the elimination of the role of the establishment from the running of the state and the impression that the current government is a very ‘pro-establishment’ regime, he said that the establishment has a role to play in governance around the world, but bringing it under the umbrella of the law and Constitution would only strengthen democracy.

The former interior minister said: “The establishment that was there in 2010-11 was not there in 2017-18, and the establishment that was there in 2017-18 is not there today.”

He said those onkey positions at the moment had no designs to use power for their own benefit, rather they wanted Pakistan to become a stable country.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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