Lahore, Nov 7 (PTI) In a surprise development, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Tuesday announced an electoral alliance to contest the general elections against Bhuttos' Pakistan People's Party in Sindh province.
Both the PML-N and MQM leadership after their meeting in Lahore on Tuesday announced that they would jointly contest the February 8, 2024 general elections.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N needs the MQM, which has a strong base in the Karachi and Hyderabad districts of Sindh, to give a tough time to the PPP in the province, a stronghold of Bhuttos.
Both the PML-N and PPP were allies in the previous PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) coalition government in which Shehbaz Sharif was the prime minister. However, since the incumbent military establishment reportedly struck a deal with PML-N supremo Nawaz regarding bringing his party into power after the February polls, the relations soured between the two main political parties that have been repeatedly in power when the powerful military was not ruling the country.
There are also reports that the military establishment doesn't want the PPP to form a government in Sindh which has long been its stronghold. In the wake of this, the PML-N has been given the go-ahead to form a grand alliance in Sindh to beat the PPP. The other two main parties -- GDA (Grand Democratic Alliance of Pir Pagaro) and JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman -- have already announced joining the Sharifs of PML-N.
To counter the PML-N move, the PPP is exploring ways to go into electoral alliance with jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Since the PTI is facing the ire of the military for allegedly attacking the army installations in early May it is not being allowed to hold political activities in the country despite the announcement of the elections.
Political pundits say if the PPP tries to make any effort to woo Khan's party, the former may invite the wrath of the powerful military establishment.
The MQM delegation led by Khalid Maqbool Saddiqui called on Nawaz at Model Town and agreed to form an electoral alliance in Sindh. The founder of MQM Altaf Hussain has long been living in self-exile in London.
In a joint statement issued after the PMLN-MQM meeting, the parties said they had agreed to contest the upcoming polls together.
"Both the parties agreed to adopt a joint strategy to bring the people of Pakistan out of the current problems and to put Pakistan back on the path of development," it said.
The two parties also decided to constitute a six-member committee to prepare a comprehensive charter, which they said would address the problems in Sindh and its urban areas. "It will also present the final proposals for cooperation between the two parties to the leadership within 10 days,” it added.
Nawaz, the only Pakistani politician who became the prime minister of the coup-prone country for a record three times, has started political activities after returning to the country from the UK where he spent four years in self-exile.
Former defence minister Khawaja Asif said 73-year-old Nawaz is "fully fit" to contest the upcoming polls and he will become the next prime minister.
On the other hand, Khan has been in jail since last August in the cypher case. Khan in a message from jail said that he is pressured to leave the country but he would not and face the challenges here.
On Monday, top leaders of the PML-N and the PPP announced that they would work together for the betterment of the country. It was declared after former premier Nawaz and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari held a telephone conversation and discussed the political situation among other things.
Political campaigning has picked up in the country after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last week announced that it would hold the next general elections on February 8. PTI MZ NPK ZH AKJ ZH ZH