Nawaz Sharif in talks to form government
13 May, 2013
LAHORE: Election winner Nawaz Sharif was in talks on Sunday to form a new government, with fixing the shattered economy and tackling militancy likely to be his two biggest challenges.
Partial, unofficial results from Saturday's election represented a stunning comeback for Nawaz who was deposed as prime minister in a 1999 military coup and spent years in jail and exile. It remains unclear whether Nawaz will preside over any substantive policy change in the war on militants. While he has voiced support for peace talks with the Taliban, he has been less vocal against US drone strikes than Khan, and is considered a pragmatist with whom Washington can work.
TV projections suggested no single party would win an absolute majority in the 342-seat National Assembly. But Nawaz's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) was well ahead with more than 115 of the chamber's 272 directly elected seats, according to various projections by private channels. Sartaj Aziz, a senior PML-N official and former cabinet minister, said Nawaz was in talks Sunday with some independent MPs to get them on board and in discussions to work out "a few key portfolios" in the cabinet.
Nawaz chaired a meeting in Raiwind to discuss the future prospects of the party. The party's members reviewed different policies and how to work with different political parties. The meeting was attended by prominent PML-N leaders, including Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, Ishaq Dar, Senator Pervez Rasheed and Khawaja Saad Rafiq.
The meeting discussed formation of governments in Centre and provinces as well as other national issues. Briefing media after the meeting, Senator Pervez Rasheed and Saad Rafiq said the meeting discussed the PML-N forming government alone. They said there is no need to call an all-parties conference, but the PML-N would take all parties on board on national issues. Pervez Rasheed said the PML-N respects all the elected members' mandate. He also congratulated MQM's chief Altaf Hussain.
Nawaz, who advocates free-market economics, is likely to pursue privatisation and deregulation to revive flagging growth. He has said Pakistan should stand on its own two feet but may need to seek another bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid a balance of payments crisis. The PML-N leader has said he could do business with the IMF.
Meanwhile, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and JUI-F's Fazlur Rehman held discussions on Sunday to chalk out a joint strategy to form government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Fazlur Rehman telephoned Nawaz and congratulated him over his party's victory on majority of seats.
The JUI-F chief said people have given mandate to the PML-N. Nawaz also felicitated Fazlur Rehman for the JUI-F victory on three National Assembly seats.
Fazl said the PML-N has emerged as the biggest party in the elections and his party would cooperate with Nawaz Sharif in Centre.