PDM Unlikely To Offer Concessions To Jehangir Tareen's IPP At Dubai Confab

PDM Unlikely To Offer Concessions To Jehangir Tareen's IPP At Dubai Confab
With the incumbent government in Pakistan nearing the conclusion of its term in mid-August, leaders from the two prominent component parties of the current coalition government have gathered in Dubai to deliberate on various crucial matters pertaining to the scenarios prior to and scenarios emerging after the upcoming general elections.

Sources have suggested that among the extensive agenda, the one suspected omission is offering concessions to the newly formed Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party created by spurned former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members Jehangir Tareen and Aleem Khan.

Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), recently arrived in the Gulf city state to engage in significant discussions concerning the caretaker government, general elections, and the future political landscape.

In addition, it has been reported that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, currently in London, will be joining the all-important meetings in Dubai. Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari are already in Dubai, actively participating in the discussions.

Many have asked about the agenda for these huddles?

Following the crackdown on the May 9 incidents, a significant number of senior leaders within the PTI distanced themselves from Imran Khan. Whether of their own accord or on specific instructions, they swiftly joined the newly formed Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP), marking a notable shift in their loyalties and further intensifying the political landscape.

But is the Istehkam-e-Pakistan worth discussing?

“No”, laughed PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan. Rather, he predicted that several leaders of the IPP could join the PPP in the future.

The PPP, he suggested, has been gaining strength across south Punjab and has successfully attracted several influential figures to join its ranks.

The party's rising popularity is evident from the outcomes of recently-held by-elections in various constituencies, including Multan, Malir, Karachi, and Bagh in Azad Kashmir. On some of these seats, the PPP prevailed against the rising wave of Imran Khan's PTI.

Notably, the PPP achieved a significant milestone by securing the positions of mayor and deputy mayor in Karachi for the first time, further consolidating its position.

A senior PML-N leader told The Friday Times (TFT) that the meetings between the party leaders will primarily focus on determining the composition of the caretaker government and addressing seat adjustments with the newly-formed Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) as well as the Pakistan Muslim League (PML).

It is worth mentioning that soon after the formation of the IPP, its leader, Jehangir Tareen, flew to London to meet with Nawaz Sharif, indicating the importance of their engagement.

Furthermore, the huddle of PML-N and PPP leaders will play a crucial role in deciding the distribution of positions within a future setup if they emerge victorious in the upcoming elections.

However, in a recent television interview, IPP's President and property tycoon Aleem Khan had rejected the possibility of any seat adjustment with the ruling coalition and vowed to contest every seat. His confidence stems from the slew of 'electables' his party has managed to collect after they detached from the PTI tree.

According to political insiders these discussions hold significant weight in reaching a consensus on the election date, shaping the caretaker government, and finalizing seat adjustments.

This initial meeting in Dubai is unlikely to be the sole engagement between these major stakeholders. It is expected that further meetings will be held until a consensus is achieved on crucial matters such as the election date, the structure of the caretaker government, and, of course, seat adjustments.

These ongoing deliberations highlight the importance of reaching a mutual understanding among the parties involved.

Dealing with the Imran threat

Sources within the ruling parties have suggested that among other things, one key issue that could be taken up is: how to handle a post-Imran Khan scenario.

This gives credence to the theory that one way or the other, former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan may find himself out of the upcoming elections given the fall out from last month's rioting.

Following his arrest last month, massive unrest was witnessed across the country, including ransacking of key military and government buildings leading to the application of Official Secrets Act, the Army Act and court martial for civilians. At least 102 civilians have been handed over to the military for trial in military courts while thousands remain incarcerated pending trial.

The government, though, is cautious about a repeat of that scenario. And sources say this is what was part of the agenda discussed in Dubai.

Islamabad-based journalist Rana Jawad has suggested that leaders are discussing a unified strategy to address the aftermath of the fallout from Imran Khan's removal from power, multiple top sources have revealed.

“The consultations between the PML-N, PPP, and other relevant parties are focused on strategically preparing for the potential scenario of Imran Khan's conviction and disqualification, according to a reliable source familiar with the developments. Another high-level source emphasised that the purpose of the meetings is to play a constructive role in ensuring democratic and economic stability. All participating parties are reportedly willing to put aside internal differences and interests to face the national challenge with a united front’” he wrote in The News.

However, Journalist Ayaz Amir has warned that the scenario on the ground is such that Imran Khan will remain a headache for Nawaz and Zardari in the future, no matter whether Imran Khan is arrested or not.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy.