Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Zardari House on Tuesday and held a meeting with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and discussed appointment of cabinet’s members, it is learnt.
PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and PML-N leaders Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah, Saad Rafique, and Marriyum Aurangzeb were also present. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reached the Parliament Lodges and met leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) to redress their reservations.
In the lodges, the prime minister held meeting with the MQM-P convener, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, at his residence and exchanged views on the prevailing political situation and government formation.
Senior MQM-P leader Waseem Akhtar had earlier expressed reservations over Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s skipping to mention the agreement reached with the MQM-P in his maiden address to the National Assembly on Monday soon after his election.
MQM-P leaders including Aminul Haq, Waseem Akhtar, Javed Hanif were also present in the meeting, besides by Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Talking to the MQM-P leaders, the prime minister said that he appreciated the MQM-P’s active support for formation and running of the government.
The prime minister was accompanied by Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ayaz Sadiq, and Marriyum Aurangzeb.
After Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan, the next move of the coalition is to appoint ministers.
According to sources, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would finalise the members of the federal cabinet within the next two days.
The sources said that Rana Sanaullah is likely to be given the portfolio of interior minister, while Marriyum Aurangzeb is expected to be appointed information minister. They said that Bilawal could be the next foreign minister, while former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is likely to be given the office of the speaker National Assembly.
The sources said that the PML-N will have a majority in the cabinet with 12 ministers. The PPP will have seven, and the JUI-F will be given four ministries. Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) will have two ministers and Awami National Party (ANP), Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP), and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) one each.
The sources said that PML-N’s Khawaja Asif, Saad Rafique, Khurram Dastgir, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Rana Sanaullah, and Murtaza Javed are likely to join the cabinet.
They said that independent candidates, Mohsin Dawar and Aslam Bhootani and PML-Q’s Tariq Bashir Cheema are also likely to be included in the cabinet.
The sources said that the name of Azam Nazir Tarar is under consideration for the Leader of the House in the Senate. The PPP will be given a ministry to either Sherry Rehman or Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar from the Senate.
The JUI-F has demanded to make the governor of Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from their party, while the governor of Punjab will be from the PPP and the governor of Sindh from MQM-P.
‘Elections will be held after electoral reforms’
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his party’s priority would be to go for elections after doing necessary electoral reforms; however, the final decision would be taken in consultation with the allies.
During a brief interaction with media at an iftar-dinner hosted by him at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, the prime minister said that there is still one and a half years remaining of the present assemblies and did not respond to a question whether the present government would persuade the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to withdraw their resignations.
In reply to a question that the formation commanders’ conference has identified those involved in propaganda against the armed forces, he said that if anyone was involved in unnecessary criticism, he should face the law.
He said that inflation, unemployment, and poverty are major challenges for the government and after the formation of the cabinet short- and medium-term plan would be prepared to bring about improvement in the economic condition.
He said that against any wrong doing including corruption, the law should take its course. He said that the NAB was used by the previous government for victimisation.
Earlier, the prime minister directed during a meeting of the economic team to prepare economic proposals and recommendations on an urgent basis to overcome the serious situation and economic challenges facing the country.
These proposals will be formulated in the light of the views of all concerned, including the agriculture, industry, investment, banking, and business communities, for which a summit will be convened in the next few days.
The decision to form the National Economic Council will be made up of impartial and eminent economists.
The meeting was given a detailed briefing by the Secretary Finance on the overall national balance sheet including the national economic situation, revenue, budget deficits, internal and external debt situation.
The prime minister also directed to formulate comprehensive proposals for providing relief to the people and controlling inflation.
He also issued special instructions for monitoring the Ramadan Bazaar during the holy month and for immediate reduction in prices of essential commodities.
Remaining tenure of NA
PM Shehbaz also said that the tenure of the current Parliament remained one and half years; however, it would be decided together with the allied parties as for how long the government will remain in power before going into fresh election.
Talking to journalists, the prime minister also warned those engaged in the campaign against the state institutions over the social media. “Everyone is allowed to engage in political activities, but no one will be allowed to create chaos in the country,” he warned.
He said that the law will take its course against those who abrogated the Constitution in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.
The prime minister said that he would not be interfering and the institutions will keep their own work.
“If President Dr Arif Alvi is sick, I wish him early recovery and good health,” he said. About the tenure of the current government, he said that the current parliament has one and a half years left, but it will be decided in consultations with the allied parties as for how long the government will remain in power.