Zardari invites PTI for ‘all-inclusive’ political reconciliation ahead of forming govt

“We have decided to form coalition government to steer country out of [prevailing] crises,” says PPP co-chairman in multi-party presser

(From left to right, front row) PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari addressing the joint press conference in Lahore on February 13, 2024. — GeoNews
(From left to right, front row) PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari addressing the joint press conference in Lahore on February 13, 2024. — GeoNews
  • PPP to form coalition govt with PML-N, MQM-P and others: Zardari.
  • Underscores need for consensus on defence and economic policies.
  • Shehbaz claims coalition partners to have two-thirds majority in NA.

Amid prevailing political uncertainty and polarisation, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has invited the Imran Khan-founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to join the process for political reconciliation ahead of the formation of the new federal government.

Stressing the need for political reconciliation during a multi-party news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, Zardari — flanked by former Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leadership including PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqool Siddiqui, PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat as well as Istehkam-e-Party (IPP) President Abdul Aleem Khan among others — said that he wanted the PTI to be a part of the reconciliation process as “everyone has to be on board on the ‘economic agenda’ for the broader interest of the nation”.

The development comes hours after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, during a presser in the federal capital, announced pulling out of the candidacy for the prime minister’s post stating his party would back PML-N’s candidate for the country’s chief executive.

The political landscape in Pakistan has been facing a rather unusual uncertainty after none of the parties, including the PPP, PML-N and PTI-affiliated candidates managed to secure a simple majority in the National Assembly in the February 8 general elections.

Attempts have been underway by all the major political stakeholders to rope in independent candidates and forge alliances to reach the necessary 169 seats in the 336-member lower house of parliament after the PTI-backed candidates emerged as the largest group by winning more than 90 NA seats followed by the PML-N PPP’s 75 and 54 seats, respectively.

“We have decided to form a coalition government [to] steer the country out of the [prevailing] crises,” Zardari said while speaking at PML-Q’s chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s residence in Islamabad.

“The phase of criticism during the elections has concluded, and a new parliament is going to be formed now. We have to end our differences to take our nation forward and rebuild our economy,” said Shehbaz Sharif before his nomination for the prime minister’s post following a consensus between coalition partners today.

“We respect each others’ mandate post-elections […] We are also grateful for Pakistan Peoples Party for agreeing to vote our [PML-N’s premier] candidate,” the former prime minister said.

“All parties who are gathered here today have a two-thirds majority,” Shehbaz claimed, adding that if the Imran Khan-founded PTI has a majority then they would definitely respect its mandate.

Speaking at the occasion, PML-Q chief Shujaat underscored the significance of the economic agenda to be prioritised amid prevailing dire economic indicators.

“We have supported Shehbaz before and will once again support him,” MQM-P Convener Siddiqui said while calling the stakeholders to put their differences aside.

Terming the high-level huddle as an attempt to stabilise the country’s democracy, Senate Charman Said Sanjrani reaffirmed the Balochistan Awami Party’s (BAP) support for the PML-N supremo Nawaz.

“Everyone will have to make decisions [for betterment] of the country,” IPP President Aleem Khan said while underscoring the need to put aside “egos”.

‘Partners to bear burden together’, Ahsan to Bilawal

Amid ongoing efforts of major parties to forge alliances ahead of forming the next government, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal expressed hope that the PPP would join the next federal cabinet.

Ahsan’s statement came hours after Bilawal had announced supporting the PML-N candidate for the prime minister’s slot, however, he clarified that his party would not be part of the next government in the Centre nor it would accept any federal ministries.

“It is impossible that only partner to bear all burden,” said the former federal minister, adding, “The Peoples Party would join the next cabinet, Insha-Allah.”

Commenting on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, he claimed that the PTI is limited to a province as the former ruling party emerged as the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the February 8 polls.

He said that an experienced team is present to guide Maryam Nawaz in Punjab, who has been nominated for the chief minister’s slot in the country’s largest province.

The seasoned politician expressed hopes that his party would pull the country out of crises under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

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