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Wednesday July 24, 2024

PPP, PMLN continue talks to bridge ‘differences’

PPP had opted to stay away from first budget of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government in National Assembly

By Asim Yasin
June 14, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari (left) meets Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad on November 22, 2022. — Twitter/@FarhatullahB
President Asif Ali Zardari (left) meets Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad on November 22, 2022. — Twitter/@FarhatullahB

ISLAMABAD: In order to remove the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s reservations on not taking it on board in the budget-making process, the second round of talks between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and its major political ally in the coalition government was held here on Thursday.

The PMLN was represented by Foreign Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Political Affairs Rana Sanaullah and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, while the PPP team comprised Senate Chairman Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Senator Sherry Rehman and Syed Naveed Qamar.

The PPP, in protest for not consulting it in the budget-making process, had opted to stay away from the first budget of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government in the National Assembly on Wednesday and only sent three members as symbolic representation in the budget session.

According to sources, the PPP has concerns over ignoring it in the budget and administrative affairs in Punjab. Both parties agreed to continue talks in coming days. Talking to media persons after the meeting with PMLN negotiating team, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said that the matter was not only the budget but the PPP also wanted space in Punjab. He said the talks were held but the discussion could not be completed in one sitting as there were some issues that were related to the prime minister and Punjab chief minister.

Gilani said the PPP’s stance was not new. “It was the same when we entered into talks with the PMLN with regard to government formation and PPP wanted the written agreement be implemented.”

In a reply to another question whether any assurance was given to the PPP for giving political space in Punjab by Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, the Senate chairman said she was a politician, not a bureaucrat.

Senator Sherry Rehman said the PPP had agreed to support the government formation in the larger national interest after intense negotiations and, as part of our agreement, the Public Sector Development Programme of all the four provinces was to be pre-agreed with the government. “Had we been taken on board, we would have been able to positively contribute to the government’s budget making process,” she said.

Sherry said it was their party’s position that the government must take the PPP into full confidence on important issues such as the budget. She said they were engaged with the PMLN to ensure that ‘our’ agreement was implemented, and any future misunderstandings were avoided.

According to sources, during the meeting, the PPP opened the script of the agreement made with the PMLN and complained that the N-League was not implementing the agreement, especially the problems being faced by the PPP in Punjab were at the top.

Sources say the PPP demanded that the PMLN ensure the implementation of written agreement and address PPP’s reservations in appointment of administrative officers in Punjab and not to ignore the party in development projects in the province.