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PML-N declines to rejoin coalition

September 09, 2008


ISLAMABAD, Sept 8: The PML-N on Monday politely declined president-elect Asif Ali Zardari’s request to rejoin the ruling coalition, but assured him that it would play a positive role in the opposition.

Mr Zardari had sought reconciliation when he met a delegation of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, headed by its chief Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House.

This was the first meeting between the two leaders since the PML-N pulled out of the ruling coalition on Aug 25.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also attended the meeting.

According to sources, Mr Zardari asked Mr Sharif to rejoin the cabinet and the ruling coalition, saying that reconciliation was in the best national interest.

Mr Sharif, however, told Mr Zardari that it was not possible for PML-N to rejoin the government, but assured him that his party would not destabilise the PPP-led coalition government at the Centre.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, one of the delegates who met Mr Zardari, told Dawn that Mr Sharif had made it clear to Mr Zardari that PML-N would support the government every step of the way towards implementing the Charter of Democracy.

According to Mr Iqbal, the president-elect sought his party’s cooperation in formulating policies.

Mr Zardari, he said, particularly wanted cooperation in government efforts to ensure peace with India and resolution of the Kashmir issue.

He quoted Asif Zardari as saying that he wanted to set up a committee comprising representatives of all political parties to develop a consensus on national issues.

Mr Iqbal said that during the meeting, the future of the Punjab government was not discussed. However, sources said, the two sides discussed the status of relationship between the two parties at the provincial level. They said both sides agreed to refrain from criticising each other.

Mr Iqbal said since Nawaz Sharif was going to London to look after his ailing wife, his brother Shahbaz Sharif would represent the party at the oath-taking ceremony of Asif Zardari. The PML-N delegation comprised Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar