Pakistan’s gov’t formation talks gain momentum


Islamabad : Political activities have gained momentum for the formation of a coalition government in Pakistan following the February 18 parliamentary elections.

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Leaders of three major parties, which have won majority seats, are scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Thursday.

Co-Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Zardari Bhutto, leader of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and chairman of the Awami National Party (ANP) Asfandyar Wali Khan will discuss the possible formation of a coalition government.

PPP emerged as the single largest party with 87 National Assembly seats in the counting so far.

Elections were held on 268 seats of the total 272 general seats.

Polling on four seats were postponed due to the deaths and poor law and order situation.

The National Assembly, lower house of the parliament, has 342 seats including special 60 women seats and 10 minorities.

Elections of women and minorities will be held on proportional representation basis after all results of general seats are officially announced.

Results of 6 National Assembly seats are still awaited.

The PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif will chair the meeting of his own party leaders and members-elect before meeting Mr Zardari.

Sharif’s PML-N has won 67 seats and claimed second position in the 342-seat National Assembly.

ANP, a nationalist group based in northwest, has also won 9 seats Asfandyar Wali Khan, who will also join other two leaders in the Islamabad crucial government formation talks.

Although the three major parties have differences over several key issues but they have no other option but to set aside their differences for a relatively stable government.

No party will be in a position to form a strong government on its own and will need other parties for a possible coalition.

Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, yesterday hinted to form a ‘national consensus government’.

Zardari and Sharif had been former allies and also Musharraf’s opponents and there is a strong possibility they will agree on a coalition.

They are few issues which are seen possible hurdles to a coalition like the issue of the restoration of judges, sacked by President Musharraf after they refused to show allegiance to the President.

Sharif wants restoration of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhamamd Chaudhry and 60 other senior judges but Mr Zardari was tight lipped when asked by journalists about the issue.

Zardari says the future government must formally ask the UN inquiry into the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was killed on December 27th.

The Thursday parleys will test the sagacity of opposition leaders how they agree on major issues and to form a coalition government.