Will MQM-P Join The Next Govt?

With finer details of MQM-P's cabinet participation and governorship yet to be tied up, it is becoming increasingly likely that a PDM 2.0 may not take power in a form previously thought

Will MQM-P Join The Next Govt?

The struggles of the PML-N to form a government in the centre continue with some parties, considered allies, suggesting that they may not join them on the treasury benches in Parliament.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), who have a sizeable cohort of 17 seats in the National Assembly — making them the third largest political party in the assembly, have indicated they are rethinking whether they should join the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on the treasury benches. 

The major reason for its indecision is that the PML-N has yet to definitively answer whether it would meet MQM-P's demands, including key posts and shares in the next federal cabinet.

Nerves have been fraying in Islamabad recently after President Arif Alvi turned down a summary to convene a session of the National Assembly to allow the newly-elected lawmakers to be sworn in. Alvi has argued that the session cannot be called until the Election Commission of Pakistan resolves the matter of allocating seats reserved for women and minorities.

A session of the National Assembly has to be summoned by February 29 in line with constitutional requirements.

While the small band of political parties who hope to form government grapple with the latest complexity of holding the assembly session, there appear to be some shifts taking place in the intricate political landscape of Islamabad.

Since the election results were announced, the MQM-P has been at loggerheads with the PML-N over its demands. The third-largest party in Parliament is firm on keeping Kamran Tessori as the governor of Sindh, apart from certain portfolios in the federal government. There were reports this week that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had reportedly agreed to these demands "in principle".

Sources in the MQM-P shared that they have put this demand before the other major coalition partner, the PPP. The reception to that proposal was reportedly far colder in Bilawal House than in Jati Umra.

Senior MQM-P members who did not wish to be named shared with The Friday Times that the PPP has been opposing their demands related to ministries' retaining Tessori as governor.

Even though the MQM-P claims it wields substantial leverage with its 17 seats, the PML-N and PPP say their idea of leverage is misplaced since the two parties alone can reach the magic number of 169 seats in the 336-member house to attain a simple majority and form a government in the centre. They argue that the inclusion of MQM-P and some other allies, such as the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), together with some others, would only make their position more comfortable. 

Sources said that the MQM-P, like other MNAs, will take oath in the maiden session of the national assembly. But a make-or-break session over its demands is expected with the PML-N before elections for constitutional offices in the Parliament.

Any decision on whether the MQM will sit on the treasury benches is expected to be made within a week of that meeting, MQM-P leaders said.