Consensus eludes would-be partners

• Insider says PPP ‘under pressure’ to become part of alliance under Nawaz league
• Kaira says ample time for talks, hopes final decision will be reached by Feb-end

ISLAMABAD: Another round of talks between the PML-N and the PPP regarding the formation of the new government remained inconclusive on Monday, giving rise to speculations that the two sides will prolong this dialogue till the constitutional deadline of Feb 29 for the first National Assembly session.

As negotiations for the incoming coalition government continue apparently due to the PPP’s reluctance, insiders have told Dawn that the party is gradually coming under pressure from different sides, including within its own ranks, to join the government. Another round of talks will kick off on Tuesday.

In the Feb 8 polls, the PTI-backed independent candidates emerged as the largest bloc with 93 seats in the National Assembly, followed by PML-N with 75 seats. The PPP bagged 54 seats. Due to a split mandate in the general election, not a single political party is in a position to form its government.

The PTI has categorically announced that it will not make any alliance with both the PML-N and the PPP. In the house of 336 seats (including reserved seats), a minimum of 169 seats are required to form the new government.

“Still eight to nine days are left in convening the session of the National Assembly,” PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said while talking in a private TV programme. He said the election of the prime minister will take place on March 2 or 3 so the two sides have ample time to reach a logical conclusion.

Mr Kaira said it was never a part of the agenda of the meeting that PPP would join the government in the Centre. “So far the PPP is sticking to its stance that it will not ask the PML-N for ministries,” he added. “We sat only to streamline our mutual issues so that no deadlock will take place once the future government starts its function,” the PPP leader said.

Asked if PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari is a candidate for the office of the president of Pakistan and if the PML-N will field its candidate for the same office, Mr Kaira said: “In alliances, candidates are not fielded against each other.”

Power-sharing formula

Sources told Dawn that some PPP leaders were supporting the idea of sharing the upcoming government with the PML-N and getting some federal ministries in return.

However, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is said to be opposed to the idea of power-sharing with the PML-N, and it is believed that he only agreed to support the PML-N to complete its numbers for the formation of the government.

A day earlier, the PPP chief had rejected the idea, saying he was not interested in such a deal. “I do not want to become such a prime minister,” he had said in his address.

According to Mr Kaira, the Monday meeting did not discuss the power-sharing formula. “We sat only to streamline our mutual issues so that no deadlock will take place once the future government starts its function,” Mr Kaira said.

It may be noted that the PPP has sought a share in the Punjab cabinet, where the PML-N is in a comfortable position to form the provincial government. In addition to this demand, the PPP has also asked for the posts of the NA speaker, the president of Pakistan, and the Senate chairman.

Later, talking to reporters PML-N leader Azam Nazeer Tarar, who is a member of the party’s committee said the second round of Monday’s talks has been adjourned today (Tuesday) morning. He said the negotiations between the PPP and PML-N were going positively.

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