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December 5, 2017

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PML-N, PPP discuss early elections

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) are developing an understanding to counter the prevailing political unrest and other challenges being faced by the country, by showing readiness to cooperate with each other for sustaining the democratic process.

Both sides are also discussing the possibility of holding early elections, while sources say that they have agreed on passing the delimitation bill in the Senate, which is scheduled to hold a new session from the 11th of this month.

Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah has already hinted that the Upper House will approve the legislation in the next sitting. The ruling party has twice faced humiliation during the last sessions of the Senate dueto the absence of its own members and had managed to get the bill through the National Assembly with only four-vote lead despite having two-thirds majority in the House.

The PML-N has 188 members in the National Assembly, while the strength of allied parties is 34, including JUI-F (13), PML-F (5), PkMAP (3) and Fata (6). Thus, the ruling alliance has 222 members in the House, but it had to convince the opposition parties so that the bill was passed.

It is clear that the PML-N is not only facing a revolt in the back of the Tehreek Labbaik’s sit-in, but also the challenge from the Riaz Hussain Pirzada group with at least four federal ministers expressing distrust in the government.

Furthermore, the names of Mian Muhammad Soomro, Justice Wajihuddin and others are also circulating for the caretaker prime minister. In this scenario, the only option is the passage of the delimitation bill for which the opposition is demanding early elections as a bargain.

The ruling party has been told that it should not set the entire system at risk for the Senate elections and depend upon a fresh mandate for the Upper House polls. It is important to note that if the assembly is dissolved in January on the prime minister’s advice, then elections would be held in 90 days, but the required period is of 60 days if the assembly completes its term. In the case of using the first option, the ECP would have enough time for carrying out the delimitation process.

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