Pakistan’s General Elections: Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP split on whether to join coalition government or sit on Opposition benches : The Tribune India

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Pakistan’s General Elections: Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP split on whether to join coalition government or sit on Opposition benches

As per sources, Bilawal is not in favour of sharing the prime minister’s position or the key ministerial posts

Pakistan’s General Elections: Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP split on whether to join coalition government or sit on Opposition benches

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. AP/PTI file


Karachi, February 13

The Bilawal Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party which won the third largest number of seats in the National Assembly in the elections appears to be split on whether to join a coalition government or sit on Opposition benches.

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PPP which met in Islamabad to deliberate on the post-poll scenario and proposals regarding the coalition government has decided to reach out to all political parties, including the PTI-backed independents, for a possible power-sharing deal.

Addressing a press conference after the CEC meeting on Monday night, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “The PPP will approach all (political) parties, and a committee will be set up.”

The committee will be formed on Tuesday, while the CEC meeting which ended without reaching any final decision will also resume at 3 pm.

A highly reliable source within the party said this was the main reason for the party's central executive committee which met on Monday. They failed to reach a final decision on whether to form a coalition government with the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) or sit on Opposition benches with the independents elected on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) tickets.

“The PML-N is pressurising Asif Zardari to agree to power-sharing where sharing the prime minister's post has also been discussed,” the source said.

“The negotiations have centred around Shehbaz Sharif remaining prime minister for half of the elected term and then Bilawal replacing him as leader of the House in Parliament,” he added.

The source confirmed there were still differences remaining over who would be nominated for key ministerial positions like foreign minister, home minister, finance minister and also the chief minister of Pakistan's largest province, Punjab.

But the source confided that Bilawal, the 35-year-old former foreign minister, and some of his like-minded supporters on the Central Executive Committee CEC of the PPP are not in favour of aligning with the PML-N as they point out that they are serious doubts over whether Nawaz Sharif, his brother Shahbaz Sharif and daughter, Maryam Nawaz did even win genuinely from their constituencies or were given a mandate by the establishment.

“Bilawal has said the PML-N is presently lacking credibility in the eyes of the people who surprised everyone by voting in favour of the PTI independents in many constituencies and he believes it is better to sit on Opposition benches and give a tough time to whichever coalition government takes power,” the source said.

The source said Bilawal was not in favour of sharing the prime minister's position or the key ministerial posts.

“There is yet to be consensus to be developed in the PPP on their next line of action even though Asif Zardari is carrying on his talks with the PML-N and some other parties,” the source said.

Bilawal, an Oxford University graduate in his election rallies has kept on highlighting the need for free and fair democracy in the country and for parties to stop wheeling and dealing with the establishment to get power.

He also publicly criticised the jail term given to Imran Khan in the Nikah case and said even in politics he does not support going to this level.

The PPP has a strong legacy in Pakistan politics owing to the Bhutto family which gave the country two prime ministers Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Both had abrasive relations with the establishment with Z.A. Bhutto being hanged on a murder charge in 1979 and Benazir assassinated in Rawalpindi in December 2007.

Since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto who was twice elected prime minister, her husband Asif Ali Zardari, a former President and only son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has carried forward the legacy of the party.

But while the senior Zardari has built a reputation for being flexible and an astute negotiator, his son Bilawal appears to follow a different path and philosophy.

Political analyst and a professor in political science, Safdar Abbas believes Bilawal is clearly trying to form his own independent political identity which distances him politically from his father's philosophies.

“Presently it appears that Asif Zardari still holds the cards in the PPP but the rebellion from Bilawal is there for all to see. Even at the provincial level in Sindh Bilawal's push for more development in Karachi is obvious,” Abbas said.

Bilawal, not fluent in Urdu has been more forthcoming in his election campaign mingling with the people and making sound for causes and issues that affect the common man.

Abbas said the next 48 hours will be crucial because if there is a coalition government formed by the PPP and PML-N it will not last for long.

The PML-N has already snared some of the independents who won PTI seats but its total tally of 78 seats in the parliament is not enough to form a government, something it can't do without forming a coalition government.


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