Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has been consulting the leaders of the coalition parties over the formation of his cabinet.
PM Shehbaz held separate meetings with PPP leaders and former president Asif Ali Zardari and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) President and JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, MQM-Pakistan leaders, BNP-Mengal Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, parliamentary leader of BAP Khalid Magsi, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) Chief Shahzain Bugti and independent member Aslam Bhootani for this purpose.
During the meetings, the premier expressed his resolve to collectively address all public problems with the spirit of unity, cooperation and mutual trust.
Sources privy to the matter said that PPP is unwilling to be a part of the cabinet, saying that it would support the government from the treasury benches in a better way.
According to the sources, one group within the party favours the idea of joining the cabinet to strengthen the coalition, while the other group is of the view that the party should instead focus on electoral reforms for early election.
However, the final decision will be made as per the top leadership’s will in a few days.
Insiders said the PPP was more interested in the constitutional offices of the parliament and it would join the cabinet in the second phase. There is a consensus in the party on taking over the office of the National Assembly speaker with Raja Pervez Ashraf and Syed Naveed Qamar as its candidates.
They claimed that Ashraf was a strong contender, while Maulana Asad Mehmood of the JUI-F, the son of Maulana Fazal, could be the deputy speaker.
ZARDARI’S ADVICE: In the meeting with Zardari and Bilawal, PM Shehbaz insisted PPP join the cabinet, but Zardari said that the party would take a decision within a day or two. He also advised the prime minister to avoid lodging political cases against PTI leaders and promote reconciliation and tolerance. He advised him that it would not be good for the government to create an impression that it was pursuing a policy of revenge.
Zardari suggested Shehbaz to let Imran Khan do what he wanted as any move of the government against him would make him a “hero.” However, he had earlier advised him to take action against the former speaker or the deputy speaker for violating the Constitution.
THE CABINET: If the PPP agrees to join, the federal cabinet will have 12 ministers from the PML-N, seven from the PPP, four from the JUI-F, two from the MQM-P, one each from the BNP-Mengal and the ANP. Shahzain Bugti of JWP and the BAP will also be given one ministry each while Mohsin Dawar, Aslam Bhootani, Tariq Bashir Cheema of the PML-Q may also be included in the cabinet.
From the PML-N, Khawaja Asif, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khurram Dastgir, Ahsan Iqbal, Maryam Aurangzeb, Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Mian Javed Latif, and Rana Sanaullah are likely to join the cabinet.
The names of Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Mustafa Nawaz, Syed Naveed Qamar, and Shazia Marri from the PPP are also under consideration. The name of Senator Azam Nazir Tarar for Leader of the House in the Senate is also under consideration.