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Friday April 12, 2024

Power-sharing talks on as PPP plays hard to get

He said the PPP raised the slogan of “Pakistan khappay” to “extinguish the fire of [political] uncertainty erupted in all the four provinces

By Ali Raza & Asim Yasin & Farooq Aqdas & News Desk
February 19, 2024
Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Addressing a ‘Youm-e-Tashakur’ [thanksgiving day] rally in Thatta on February 18, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP
Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Addressing a ‘Youm-e-Tashakur’ [thanksgiving day] rally in Thatta on February 18, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/SIALKOT: Contrary to the media reports of PPP readiness to be part of the upcoming cabinet, Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari again rejected any power-sharing formula with the PMLN, saying he would become the prime minister when people would elect him to the office.

Addressing a ‘Youm-e-Tashakur’ [thanksgiving day] rally in Thatta on Sunday to celebrate the election victory in Sindh, he said it was not his right at the moment to present himself as a candidate for the prime minister’s office. “We neither want the prime minister’s chair nor any ministry. We just want people’s problems to be solved.” In return for votes for the prime minister’s slot, the PPP would seek rights for the flood affectees in Sindh and Balochistan, Bilawal said.

Sharing details of dialogue with the PMLN in connection with a proposed coalition government in Centre, the PPP chief said that he was asked to give the initial three-year term to them and the remaining two years to him, but he rejected the offer. “I rejected [offer] and said that the people of Pakistan will make me the prime minister.”

The PPP leader said that he would convey the people’s voice in the National Assembly. He also warned of a protest call if “democracy or federation is in danger”. He asked his party supporters to take to the streets on his call, in the same way, they came out during the era of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his assassinated mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

He said the PPP raised the slogan of “Pakistan khappay” to “extinguish the fire of [political] uncertainty erupted in all the four provinces”. He said they would lodge their candidates’ complaints regarding rigging in the February 8 elections with the appropriate legal forums.

If the relevant forums would fail to provide them justice, then they would stage protests along with masses, he warned. The former foreign minister, however, clarified that he was not in favour of protest as if he also started the street protests, it would harm the country and the federation.

“Jiyalas were martyred in Karachi, Mirpur Khas and Moro,” Bilawal said, adding that his party’s candidates came under attack in Balochistan as well. He said his party’s mandate was also stolen. The upcoming government in Sindh would be formed purely based on Form 45, the PPP stalwart added.

In the Centre, the party had thrown its weight behind the PMLN, but excused from taking any ministries.

Bilawal said that his father, Asif Ali Zardari, would be the party’s candidate for the slot of president, adding that after assuming the charge the PPP co-chairman would save the federation and defuse the political tension in the country. He urged all political parties to give preference to people’s interests over their objectives.

Stressing the need for reconciliation, he said no power could harm democracy and the federation if they worked jointly. Bilawal further said that “it is the time to save the country”. The political parties should lodge their complaints about rigging on the relevant forum, he added.

Also, PPP Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi said on Sunday no final decision had been taken so far. He said another meeting of committees of the two parties would be held on Monday (today). He said the PPP had formed its committee to engage in political discussions with the PMLN and other parties and that committee had already held four meetings with the PMLN committee, which is supposed to meet again on Monday. “Once things are finalised, the result would be shared with the media,” he said.

He said the PPP’s Central Executive Committee meeting has made a decision that the PPP would vote PMLN with regard to prime minister’s slot and support them in legislation, but would not be part of the cabinet. “So far it was of the PPP stance and whatever decision was taken in the committee meetings of both the parties it would be shared with the media,” he said.

When contacted, PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan also said so far no decision had been made as the meetings of PPP and PMLN committees continue.

Meanwhile, former defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif claimed that progress had been made in political negotiations between the PMLN and the PPP in talks held on Saturday evening, but he was unaware of the details of the progress. He said partnership of political parties was part of democratic process; political stability was inevitable for economic stability and claimed progress was made in negotiations yesterday evening.

He said the PMLN had a simple majority in Punjab, the people of Karachi have given mandate to the MQM. “It is clear that the PMLN, PPP and MQM will form a joint government in centre,” he said. “Politicians should rise above personal interests and sacrifice for people,” Kh Asif added.

He said Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s alliance is with those who benefited from fraud in KP, adding that, the truth of the press conference of the former commissioner had come out now.

Meanwhile, head of PMLN Coordination Committee Senator Ishaq Dar requested leaders of both PPP and PMLN to refrain from giving any statements before finalisation of terms for the future coalition.

In a tweet on Sunday, he said the leaders of PMLN and PPP were requested to follow the rules laid down between the committees for discussion. It was decided that no member or leader of the coordination committees, formed by the two parties, would comment on the ongoing process of discussion and the points discussed in it, he added.

“The final points have not yet been settled between the parties and consultations continued till yesterday on various proposals. Four rounds of consultation have been completed and the fifth session has been scheduled for Monday afternoon and important progress is expected in tomorrow’s meeting,” he added.

A formal joint declaration of both parties would be issued after the consultation was completed, he said and concluded that it was not appropriate to discuss anything before the consultation was completed as per the agreed procedure between the two parties.

Meanwhile, PMLN leader Irfan Siddiqui said on Sunday the PPP would ultimately become part of the federal government. Speaking in Geo News programme ‘Naya Pakistan with Shahzad Iqbal’, he said Bilawal Bhutto talked of helping Pakistan and its people in his speech on Sunday. He talked of sacrifices for the country, which was very positive and ultimately, his party would join the federal government. He did repeat the PPP central executive committee (CEC) meeting decision that the party would only vote the PMLN candidate to become the prime minister and not to join the cabinet. But at the moment, the country is facing serious crises, and now making one party’s prime minister would not help the country come out of the challenges. He said both parties should share benefits and losses of running the government jointly in these challenging times.

Sources, however, claim that the fourth round of PMLN-PPPP talks has made a major progress that can be termed a breakthrough.

The two parties have reached an agreement in principle under the which the PPPP will get the offices of the president, governor and the speaker while the PPP and MQM would be part of the government. The two parties will also share power in Balochistan where former caretaker interior minister Sarfraz Bugti is leading candidate for the chief minister’s office. Separately, another independent member of the Balochistan Assembly joined Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) here on Sunday.

Mir Asim Kurd Gilo, an independently elected member of Balochistan Assembly from PB-12 Kuchi Bolan constituency met PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif and announced joining the party and expressed full confidence in leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

PM-designate Shehbaz Sharif thanked Mir Asim and his colleagues and congratulated them on joining the party.

Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN have always developed Pakistan, especially Balochistan, Mir Asim said, adding that he wanted to see the people of Balochistan make progress in education, health and development and that was why he joined the PMLN.

Separately, PMLN president met former federal minister Sardar Muhammad Yusuf in another meeting on Sunday. The latter has been elected as an MNA on the party ticket from NA-14 Mansehra. Shehbaz said political stability did not belong to any party, it was country’s need at this time, adding that to save the state from economic threats, everyone’s unity was the solution to all problems.