Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have agreed to privately set aside their public differences to protect key joint interests, including protecting democracy and early elections.
Sources here say that the leaders of the two rival parties are trying to develop an understanding to counter the prevailing political unrest and other challenges being faced by the country, by showing readiness to co-operate to sustain the democratic process.
Both sides are also discussing the possibility of holding early elections, while sources say that they have agreed on passing the bill on delimitation of electoral constituencies, necessitated by the provisional results of the recent census, in the Senate.
The Senate meets next week.
Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khursheed Shah has already hinted that the Upper House will approve the legislation in the next sitting.
The ruling party has twice faced humiliation during the last sessions of the Senate due to the absence of its own members, and had only managed to get the bill through the National Assembly with a four-vote lead despite having two-thirds majority in the House.
The PML-N has 188 members in the National Assembly, while the strength of allied parties is 34, including JUI-F (13), PML-F (5), PKMAP (3) and FATA (6).
Thus, the ruling alliance has 222 members in the House, but it had to convince the opposition parties so that the bill could be passed.
It is clear that the PML-N is not only facing a revolt in the back of the religious fringe group Tehrik-i-Labbaik’s sit-in, but also the challenge from the rebel ruling party faction headed by Riaz Pirzada, with at least four federal ministers expressing distrust in the government.
Furthermore, the names of former caretaker prime minister Mian Muhammad Soomro, Wajihuddin Ahmed and others are also circulating for the caretaker prime minister.
In this scenario, the only option is the passage of the delimitation bill for which the opposition is demanding early elections for their support.
The ruling party has been told that it should not put the entire system at risk for the Senate elections and depend upon a fresh mandate for the Upper House polls.
If the National Assembly is dissolved in January on the prime minister’s advice, elections will be held in 90 days, but the required period is of 60 days if the assembly completes its term.
In the case of the first option, the Election Commission of Pakistan would have enough time for carrying out the delimitation process.
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