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Sharif set to form govt, Imran-backed candidate jumps ship

By M Zulqernain
February 12, 2024 10:39 IST
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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is all set to form the coalition government in Pakistan along with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), on Sunday managed to secure the support of the first independent candidate backed by Imran Khan's party to increase its strength in Parliament.

IMAGE: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif speaks at the party office of Pakistan Muslim League-N, at Model Town in Lahore, on February 9, 2024. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Wasim Qadir, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-backed candidate who defeated PML-N's stalwart Sheikh Rohail Asghar from Lahore's National Assembly-121 constituency, joined the PML-N after a meeting with Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the party supremo Nawaz Sharif, at her residence.


"I have joined PML-N as it is my home," Qadir said after the meeting.

According to sources in the PML-N, the 'working' on the PTI-backed winners have been underway and in the next 24 to 48 hours more such candidates will join the PML-N of Sharifs.

"The establishment will make sure that it sends as many PTI-backed independent candidates to the PML-N camp so that it's dependence on the PPP of Bhuttos could be minimal," the sources said, adding that the PPP wants the prime minister's slot in which the establishment is keen to install its favourite, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif met with PPP leadership Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Lahore and announced 'political cooperation' between the two parties.

In a joint statement after the meeting, both the parties agreed to 'save the country from political instability'.

It said the PPP will place the suggestions of the PML-N leadership before it's central executive committee on Monday and will give it's response.

Earlier on Sunday, the PML-N enhanced its efforts to form a coalition government in Islamabad.

A delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), which grabbed 17 national assembly seats, called on the Sharif brothers -- Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif -- in their Jati Umra Raiwind residence and agreed in principle to work together in forming the government.

"We will work together in the interest of the country and public. The basic points had been agreed upon by the two parties," a PMLN statement said after the meeting.

The MQM-P's delegation comprised Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Farooq Sattar, Kamran Tessori and Mustafa Kamal.

The MQM-P, which is mainly a Karachi-based party, had formed an alliance with the PML-N ahead of Feb 8 polls.

Going by their numerical strength, both the PML-N and the PPP are in a position to form a coalition government in the Centre. However, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif announced that all parties except PTI should join hands in the upcoming set up.

According to the results announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) till Sunday, of the total 265 National Assembly seats, PTI-backed Independents bagged 93 seats, followed by PML-N at 73, PPP 54, MQM 17 and others 19.

Sources said that both PML-N and PPP want the prime ministerial slot.

"Shehbaz Sharif is favourite for the PM office for being more close to the military establishment. Besides, PML-N has more seats in Parliament than the PPP. The PPP wants the PM's slot for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari," they said, adding that Asif Zardari has sought the coveted office from Nawaz Sharif.

"Shehbaz is a blue-eyed boy of the military establishment, which feels much comfortable working with him. The new government set up will be like that of PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) one," the sources said.

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M Zulqernain
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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