PML-N eyes PPP’s role in govt as fifth round of talks set to take place today

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/SIALKOT: As the formation of a future government following the February 8 polls remains shrouded in uncertainty, the fifth round of talks is set to take place between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with the former looking for the latter’s role in government

Both the PPP and the PML-N, since the elections, failed to see either party securing a simple majority in the National Assembly and have been engaged in negotiations over the formation of the future government after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto announced to support the PML-N’s candidate, Shehbaz Sharif, for the prime minister’s post.

With the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) backed candidates emerging as the largest group by winning more than 90 NA seats, followed by the PML-N and the PPP’s 79 and 54 seats, respectively, the latter two will need to forge an alliance along with other parties to reach the necessary 169 seats in the 336-member lower house of parliament.

However, the negotiations have not been so seamless as the PPP chairman, despite his announcement regarding support to PML-N for the chief executive slot, has repeatedly turned down the possibility of the party’s inclusion in the PML-N’s government.

“PPP won’t be a part of a government like Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) II,” Bilawal had said in a press conference last week.

The former foreign minister once again reiterated this stance during the party’s yesterday’s “Youm-e-Tashakur” (thanksgiving day) rally in Thatta to celebrate the election victory in Sindh.

“We neither want the prime minister’s chair nor any ministry,” the PPP chairman said while stressing that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari will be the party’s candidate for the president’s office.

His remarks come as senior PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, who is also heading the party’s coordination committee, has called on leaders from both parties to refrain from giving any statements before finalisation of terms for the future coalition.

“The leaders of the PML-N and PPP are requested to adhere to the rules laid down between the committees for discussion [as] it was decided that no member or leader of the coordination committees would comment on the ongoing process of discussion and the points discussed in it,” the former finance minister said in a social media post on X.

Stressing that final points have not yet been settled between the parties, Dar said that major breakthrough is expected in the negotiations during today’s meeting and a formal joint declaration of both parties would be issued once the talks culminate.

Despite the PPP’s insistence on not being part of the future government, PML-N leader Irfan Siddiqui has claimed that the Bilawal-led party would ultimately become part of the federal government.

Speaking in the Geo News programme “Naya Pakistan with Shahzad Iqbal,” Siddiqui cited the PPP chairman’s comments regarding helping Pakistan and its people and said that the party would join the federal government as the country is facing serious crises, and now making one party’s prime minister would not help the country come out of the challenges.

Both parties should share the benefits and losses of running the government jointly in these challenging times, he noted.

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