The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday announced that it will not be joining the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in cabinet, but may support them in forming a government and their candidate for prime minister.
This was announced by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad on Tuesday following a marathon meeting of his party's central executive committee to decide the future course of action for the party in parliament.
Conceding that his party did not win the mandate to form a government independently. Bilawal said that they looked to other major parties to form a coalition. He further said that after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had ruled out talks with the PPP to form a government in the centre and that the PML-N had approached them, they had few options left.
However, he said that the PPP was not interested in joining any coalition cabinet, nor was he interested in the prime minister's slot.
PPP has decided that while we are not in the position to join the federal government, nor are we interested in taking ministries in such a setup, we also don’t want to see political chaos in the country. We don’t want to see a perpetual crisis in our country – Chairman PPP… pic.twitter.com/tJvNMIQjLR— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) February 13, 2024
Instead, Bilawal said that the PPP would set up a committee to coordinate with various parties and back the new government on an issue-to-issue basis and key bills. The committee will also take up issues regarding poll irregularities and take it up with the relevant institutions.
"Our principle decision is to side with Pakistan and to drag it out of this crisis. Pakistan has always raised the slogan of 'Pakistan Khappay' and has taken decisions in this regard," he said, adding that they had raised that slogan despite several reservations.
Bilawal noted that PPP's efforts to reach out to the PTI to form a government had been rebuffed.
"The PTI has announced that they will not engage in a dialogue with the PPP, so that rules out the possibility of an independent-led government," he said, adding, "That leaves us with the PML-N, which was the only political party in the National Assembly to have reached out to the PPP and invited us to join their government."
The PPP, he said, has decided that they will support the PML-N in forming a government but will not join the new federal cabinet in a repeat of the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government. He added that they are not interested in taking ministries in such a setup.
"PPP will be willing to support, on an issue-to-issue basis and on key votes to ensure a government is formed and to ensure political stability is restored," he said, adding that a committee comprising senior members of the party will be created to review decisions.
Explaining his decision to support the PML-N even though he was acknowledging the split mandate, Bilawal said that they do not wish to see chaos take root in the country or see it slip into a perpetual crisis.
"Will accept results of the elections under protest," he said, expressing his desire for all political parties to sit down and address gaps in the electoral process to ensure future elections are free from controversy.
"We feel it is our responsibility that irrespective of the situation, the people look towards us to protect them from instability and chaos."
Asked whether the PPP would form a government in Balochistan, where the party had gained a shock lead, Bilawal affirmed that they would try to form a government in Sindh and Balochistan based on their mandate.
Further, in response to another question, he said that the PPP will field its candidates for key constitutional positions in the national assembly, the Senate, the National Speakers, and the presidency.
Bilawal also expressed his wish that PPP nominates Asif Ali Zardari for the position of President.
"The country is currently ablaze. If anyone who has the skill and capacity to douse these flames, it is Asif Ali Zardari," he explained.
"Whoever is PML-N's prime minister candidate, if they pursue traditional politics of hate and division, it will become very difficult," he warned.
"It is very important that not only PML-N but all political parties, including the PTI, that they do not just think about themselves and think about Pakistan. The environment that is creating, Pakistan's enemies will look to take advantage of it."
Bilawal urged politicians to remain within the confines of politics.
"We need to let go of politics of extremism and personal vendettas."
PML-N welcomes PPP decision
The PML-N, meanwhile, has welcomed PPP's decision to back their government.
In a message posted on social media site 'X' (formerly known as Twitter), former prime minister and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that he had spoken via telephone with PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal and conveyed heartfelt thanks from PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
"I hope that together, we can successfully pull Pakistan out of all political and economic crises," he said.
سابق صدر و شریک چیئرمین پیپلز پارٹی آصف علی زرداری صاحب اور چیئرمین پیپلز پارٹی بلاول بھٹو زرداری صاحب سے ٹیلی فونک رابطہ ہوا۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی حمایت کے اعلان پر قائد میاں نواز شریف کی طرف سے اور اپنی طرف سے ان کا شکریہ ادا کیا۔ امید کرتے ہیں کہ ہم مل کر پاکستان کو تمام سیاسی اور…— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) February 13, 2024