Nawaz, Zardari ‘contact’ stirs political landscape


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) president Asif Ali Zardari have shown determination to shape the country’s political landscape as they vowed to find a way to work together to safeguard the state and revive the economy, it emerged on Monday.

The bigwigs of the two major political parties initiated contact over the phone and pledged their commitment to collaborating in order to address the country’s pressing issues and reshape its political future.

The show of unity has come as a surprise given the escalating rivalry between the PPP and the PML-N in the run-up to the elections. The PPP leadership has alleged that the Nawaz-led party maintained clandestine alliances with the current interim government.

Sources in both the parties said that their shared objective was to tackle economic challenges and ensure stability of the state, saying the contact can also be seen as a first step towards setting the stage for a possible alliance between the two major political parties.

During a recent telephonic conversation, the sources said, Nawaz and Zardari mulled over initiating a dialogue to explore how their respective parties can work together to navigate the country out of its current crises.

Nawaz, a three-time former premier, and Zardari, ex-president of Pakistan, while discussing the ongoing political situation and the upcoming elections over the phone also mulled on having a face-to-face meeting in the coming days.

On October 31, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal had told the media that the party had decided that the former prime minister would meet the heads of the key allies of the previous government, including Zardari, saying he emphasised working together with other political parties on key issues despite having a difference of opinion for the betterment of country and democracy.

Though the news emerged about the telephonic conversation between Nawaz and Zardari on Monday, PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari while talking to the media in Karachi revealed that the telephonic conversation between the two leaders took place after Nawaz returned to the country last month.

The PPP chairman while calling the news a bit old added that both the leaders stay in touch, saying that PPP’s doors are open for all the political parties and it will remain in contact with all the political parties.

Notably, this is not the first time that Sharif and Zardari have maintained a veil of secrecy around their discussions. In a previous instance, when the two leaders, along with Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto, convened in Dubai to strategise, it ignited speculation about significant political developments in Pakistan.

During this clandestine meeting, a PPP leader had revealed, they deliberated on matters such as the dissolution of the National Assembly, the formation of a caretaker government, and setting a date for the upcoming general elections.

Despite ongoing speculation about potential alliances and coalitions, both PML-N and PPP officials denied that the two leaders spoke over the phone on Monday. PML-N’s information secretary, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that no telephonic conversation took place between Sharif and Zardari on Monday.

While Bilawal confirmed the conversation, Aurangzeb claimed no knowledge of any previous phone call between the two leaders after Sharif’s return to the country on October 21. Similarly, PPP’s information secretary, Faisal Karim Kundi, refuted the news about the phone call on Monday but acknowledged the earlier conversation, particularly following Bilawal’s confirmation.

PML-N and PPP were the two major political parties who remained in power for 16 months after they along with others removed the ex-premier Imran Khan through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022.

Although the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government made a strong comeback, the party’s alleged involvement in the May 9 attacks on the country’s civilian and military installations led to its downfall.

Since then, the party faced a crackdown, PTI chairman Imran Khan was arrested in different cases, and PTI fell like the house of cards as dozens of party leaders were arrested and rearrested until they abandoned the party, and its workers are still in jail facing different cases and the party is now demanding a level-playing field before the polls.

A delegation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will reach Lahore on Tuesday at the invitation of PML-N President and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Shehbaz Sharif had a telephonic contact with MQM-Pakistan Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and invited him for a meeting in Lahore, and the invitation was accepted.

Sources said Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Mustafa Kamal and Farooq Sattar are likely to come to Lahore and meet Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders. The political situation in the country will be discussed during the meeting.

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