PML-N Presses Its Advantage

In a flurry of meetings, gains favour of independents in Punjab, MQM in centre

PML-N Presses Its Advantage

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Sunday agreed to a political alliance in a future government as the former pressed its advantage as the largest party elected to the national assembly.

The PML-N secured around 75 seats in the National Assembly during the February 8 general elections to become the largest party in the national assembly (even though the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) backed candidates secured 93 seats, they contested as independents and thus cannot be counted as a formal party in the NA or any other assembly). It secured 137 seats in the Punjab Assembly, just one less than PTI-backed independents and 12 shy of the magic number to form government in the province. In Balochistan, it could only secure six seats compared to 11 each by the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F).

The PMl-N announced plans to form a government in the centre and Punjab, apart from harbouring a prospect of forming a coalition government in Balochistan.

Subsequently, the PML-N became active in wooing independent candidates and securing coalitions to form governments.

It started by contacting politically un-aligned independent candidates who won the February 8 elections at the national and provincial levels to bolster its numbers. Legally, independents are bound to choose whether to join an elected political party within 72 hours of elections or remain independent for the remainder of their tenure. 

It also contacted other political parties hoping to strike an alliance, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the MQM-P. The PML-N will also seek to entice the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F).

PML-N and MQM-P agree to an alliance

On Sunday, the PML-N and MQM-P agreed to a political alliance in a future government.

The decision was taken during an hour-long meeting between a delegation of the MQM-P led by convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif at Raiwind.

Others who attended the meeting included PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Chief Organiser and Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Senator Ishaq Dar, PML-N General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal, PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah, former NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, former federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Rana Mashhood. 

The MQM-P delegation included Dr Siddiqui, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, Dr Farooq Sattar, and Mustafa Kamal.

Both sides have reached an in-principle agreement to work together in the larger national interest.

They discussed in detail the ongoing political situation in the country and exchanged suggestions on how to best solve them. 

Both sides shared details of the independents and other allies they had contacted and took each other into confidence.  

Bagging independents 

The PML-N has also attracted independent National Assembly and Punjab candidates to consolidate its position in the two assemblies.

So far, the PML-N has managed to attract four independents in the national assembly and five in the provincial assembly apart from the alliance with other parties.  

Thus far, it has attracted independent candidates from NA-253 Mian Khan Bugti, NA-48 Raja Khurram Nawaz, NA-54 Barrister Aqeel Malik and NA-189 Sardar Shamsheer Mazari.

Some of these candidates were previously aligned with the PML-N but were not given a ticket by the party for various reasons. 

Raja Khurram Nawaz was a joint candidate of the PML-N and the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) from Islamabad. He was previously aligned with the PTI during the 2018 elections.

In the Punjab assembly, it has attracted PP-240 winner Muhammad Sohail, PP-48's Khurram Khan Virk, PP-49's Rana Fiaz, PP-94's Taimoor Lali and PP-96's Zulfiqar Ali Shah.

Consequently, PML-N's total in the national assembly rises to 77, while in the Punjab Assembly, it rises to 142.