A familiar post-election game is on in Pakistan: Efforts are on to ‘turn’ winning independents loyal to Imran Khan’s PTI, and ensure they join Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. One such independent has been successfully turned: Wasim Qadir who defeated the latter’s Rohail Asghar from a Lahore constituency, has joined hands with Sharif after a meeting with his daughter Maryam.
Sources in the Sharif camp confirmed that more are expected to join in the next 24 to 48 hours. The big buzz is Sharif’s call for a “participatory coalition government” with other parties to get over the split verdict of the poll. It echoes Army Chief Gen Asim Munir’s suggestion over the weekend for a “unified government of all democratic forces”, imbibed with national purpose.
“Elections and democracy are means to serve people of Pakistan and not ends in themselves,” Munir was quoted by the Inter Services Public Relations as saying.
To that end, the PML-N says it is willing to offer the posts of president and speaker of the national assembly, to potential coalition partners. As of now these are the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
The PTI has set its face dead against any power sharing talks with the PML-N or for that matter the PPP of Asif Zardari, husband of the late Benazir Bhutto.
“We don’t feel comfortable with both of them. There will be no talks with anyone to make a government or to make a government together with them,” said PTI chairman Gohar Khan. But he also clarified that the PTI, since it is banned, will be looking to merge with another political party.
The PTI believes it is well placed to win at least 170 seats, which would put it firmly in the driver’s seat but that may only be a hope at this point. With the army against it and Nawaz Sharif publicly indicating his intention to break the independents, it may only be a matter of time before chess board clears.