The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) led by former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif has pitched the idea of a “participatory coalition government” to rival parties to end the logjam following the split verdict in the February 8 election, according to media reports on Monday.
PML-N has 75 seats in the 266-member National Assembly, the single largest party. Independent members, mostly backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, have secured 101 seats.
Former law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar termed this scenario ‘Hobson’s choice’ and said not a single political party had secured a majority in the National Assembly, insisting that elections were “fair”.
The senior PML-N leader was talking to the media after a meeting of the party’s top brass at Jati Umra in Lahore during which consultations were held regarding the future course of action. The ex-minister said the PML-N had started consultations with its former allies to form a unity government in the Centre.
“There’s only the possibility of forming the (federal) government with the backing of the PML-N. It will be a participatory coalition government,” he said, adding that it was in “the largest interest of the country that all should join hands” to form the federal government, the Dawn newspaper reported.
According to PML-N sources, the initial formula stipulates that if the coalition parties agree to give the post of prime minister to the PML-N, then the post of president and speaker will be given to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Similarly, the post of deputy speaker can be given to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) or any of the independent members joining the coalition. Besides, the PML-N may keep the finance ministry, and other ministries will be distributed among allies with mutual consultation.
Going by their numerical strength, both the PML-N and the PPP are in a position to form a coalition government in the Centre. However, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif announced that all parties except PTI should join hands in the upcoming set-up.
According to the results announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) till Sunday, of the total 265 National Assembly seats, PTI-backed Independents bagged 101 seats, followed by PML-N at 75, PPP at 54, MQM at 17 and other smaller parties won 17 seats.
According to the formula, the sources said the decision regarding the nomination for the positions of Senate chairman and deputy chairman will be decided in consultation with the allies after the Senate elections.
“The PML-N has held a consultation for a long time on this initial formula,” a source said.
“It will be finalised in the meetings with the potential coalition partners. Changes can be made following the evolving political situation,” the source added.
The consultation on the formation of the coalition government is expected between Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and others.
According to the sources, since the PPP has already nominated its Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its candidate for premiership, it may not withdraw from its stance. However, they added that the PML-N can support Bilawal for the post of prime minister after consultation.
The sources said that if the PML-N gets the post of prime minister, then the distribution of other important positions, such as the posts of president, speaker, deputy speaker of the National Assembly as well as the coveted ministries, will be done through consultation.
The PML-N source said that the party was trying to establish a joint committee of all parties regarding the formation of a coalition government. The committee will hold the final consultation and recommend its suggestions for the government formation.