Chinks begin to show up in Pakistan’s ruling alliance
Former PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan continues to serve as the main reason for a bond between the PMLN and the PPP

at 1:01 am
Leaders of the ruling PML-N and PPP coalition

Islamabad, June 15: All is not hunky-dory with the Shehbaz Sharif government, with strains beginning to show up in the alliance between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PMLN) and its ally Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP).

While former PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan continues to serve as the main reason for a bond between the PMLN and the PPP, one of the main reasons for the unhappiness of the PPP is Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s style of governance, which is upsetting Bilawal Bhutto’s party.

To address the PPP’s reservations regarding Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, talks between the Bilawal Bhutto Zardari-led party in the province and the PML-N are to be held after Eid ul Adha.

The PPP, which is the PML-N’s ally in both the Centre and Punjab, has serious reservations regarding Maryam Nawaz’s governance style and lack of coordination on policy matters.

Adding to the problem between the allies is the presentation of the budget on Wednesday, in which the PPP was not consulted.

The PPP, a key ally in the ruling coalition, expressed its displeasure on Wednesday by making only a token appearance in the National Assembly’s budget session to send a warning shot to the government.

The PPP’s discontent became glaringly obvious in its merely symbolic participation as the ruling party turned a deaf ear to its concerns about the budget.

In a dramatic turn of events, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar had to make a beeline for PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s chamber, pleading for the party’s attendance at the session.

Despite Dar’s eleventh-hour diplomacy, the PPP only sent three MNAs—Naveed Qamar, Khursheed Shah, and Ijaz Jakhrani—while the chairman and other key lawmakers were conspicuously absent, making it clear that the PPP felt taken for granted by the ruling party.

“The PML-N has violated the agreement that it reached with PPP before forming the government in the Centre as it has not taken any input from its key ally in the PSDP budget,” PPP Secretary Information Shazia Marri is reported to have said, “The government is taking us for granted.”

Upset with the Punjab CM, the PPP is known to have said it wants its share of appointments in Punjab’s bureaucracy, particularly in those districts where the PPP has its parliamentary presence. Maryam Nawaz, however, is not willing to make changes in the bureaucracy on the basis of politicians’ recommendations.

The Punjab chief minister has even categorically told her own party MPs that no political interference in civil administration and police would be acceptable. This decision of Maryam Nawaz has not only made many PML-N MPs uncomfortable but has really upset PPP Members of National Assembly (MNAs) and Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) from Punjab.

However, the two sides are continuing to hold background interactions, and no matter what the differences between the two sides are, including even the issues in Punjab, the PPP will not let the Shehbaz Sharif government fall because of Imran Khan’s fashion of politics.

Khan’s continuing attacks on the military establishment is apparently the main source of strength for the Shehbaz government. It also unites the PML-N and PPP despite their differences on certain key issues. It is believed, that the weakening of the present government or any serious rift between the PML-N and PPP would mean strengthening of Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The PPP, after the February 8 elections had opted to sit in the treasury benches, but did not join the Shehbaz Sharif cabinet. The PPP, however, got the presidency, office of chairman Senate, deputy speaker National Assembly and two governors. The PPP had agreed that it would not let the government fall.