Politics

Shehbaz Sharif to be PM, Asif Zardari to be President as PPP, PML-N Seal Coalition Deal

After days of hectic negotiations, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have finally agreed on a power-sharing formula to form a coalition government at the Centre and in three provinces.

According to the deal, announced by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif at a joint press conference on Tuesday night, the PML-N will lead the federal government with Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister, while the PPP will get the presidency with Asif Ali Zardari as the head of state.

The two parties have also decided to share power in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the PML-N getting the chief minister’s slot in Punjab, the PPP in Balochistan and the Awami National Party (ANP) in KP. The PPP will also get the governorship of Punjab and KP, while the PML-N will nominate the governors of Sindh and Balochistan.

The PPP will also retain the Senate chairmanship, while the PML-N will get the speaker’s position in the National Assembly. The deputy speaker’s slot will go to the PPP.

The two parties claimed that they have the support of 181 members in the National Assembly, which is more than the required number of 133 for forming the government.

The announcement of the coalition deal came as a blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former prime minister Imran Khan, who had hoped to form the government with the help of independent candidates and the SIC. The PTI had emerged as the single largest party with 92 seats in the February 8 elections, but fell short of a simple majority.

The PTI reacted to the PPP-PML-N alliance by calling it a “PDM 2.0”, referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an anti-government alliance of 11 opposition parties that had launched a campaign to oust the PTI government last year. The PTI accused the PPP and the PML-N of stealing the mandate of the people and joining hands to protect their corruption and vested interests.

The PPP and the PML-N, however, defended their decision to form a coalition, saying that it was in the best interest of the country and the people. They said that they would work together to address the challenges facing the nation, such as the economic crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, the security situation and the foreign policy issues.

They also said that they would uphold the supremacy of the Constitution, the Parliament and the democracy, and would not indulge in any personal or political vendetta against anyone.

The two parties also thanked the other parties that supported them in their bid to form the government, and expressed their hope that they would continue to cooperate with them in the future.

The PPP and the PML-N have a history of bitter rivalry and mistrust, but they have also joined hands in the past to form coalition governments. The last time they were in a coalition was from 2008 to 2013, when the PPP led the federal government and the PML-N ruled Punjab.

The two parties have also faced several corruption cases and allegations, and have been targeted by the establishment and the judiciary. Both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari have been disqualified from holding public office by the Supreme Court, and are facing multiple cases in the accountability courts.

The formation of the new coalition government is expected to bring a major shift in the political landscape of the country, and may also have implications for the relations with the military, the judiciary and the international community.

The new government will have to prove its majority in the National Assembly by February 29, as per the Constitution. It will also have to present its budget for the next fiscal year by June 30.

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