PM Shehbaz, Zardari step up consultations as polls draw near

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday held a second round of consultations in a week to discuss strategy for the dissolution of assembles and picking members for a caretaker setup as the general elections draw near, The News reported.

The key coalition partners, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and PPP have reportedly agreed on dissolving assemblies on August 8, four days before the mandated period is over. However, there is no official word on the date of the assemblies’ dissolution.

Putting at rest the guessing game on the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb also clarified that no decision had yet been taken in this regard.

Sources said that PM Shehabaz and Zardari hold consultations over the current political scenario in the country during the meeting besides discussing the matters related to the upcoming polls.

The prime minister was assisted in the meeting by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who is the chairman of the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms.

This was the second meeting of the former president with PM Shehbaz Sharif in a week’s time as the first meeting was held in Lahore last Saturday.

The sources also indicated that it was decided in the meeting that a joint meeting of the PDM and PPP, as well as heads of coalition partners, would be held within the next two days for deciding on a strategy for the dissolution of assemblies and for the caretaker setup.

According to PM House sources, Finance Minister Dar suggested that these decisions should be made at the summit of the ruling alliance parties. The proposal was endorsed by all the participants, the sources said.

Another agenda of the huddle was to conclude the formula for picking up the caretakers.

The PML-N was interested in bringing a political stalwart to head the office but the PPP argued against it and advocated considering some senior bureaucrat or former senior judge for the post of the caretaker chief executive.

The sources indicated that both parties were in agreement that the National Assembly and the two provincial assemblies should be dissolved on August 9, three days before the mandated period is over. The final decision would be taken at the summit of the ruling alliance, the sources said.

The meeting ended without any decision on seat adjustment and a schedule for dissolving the NA, Sindh, and Balochistan provincial assemblies. That question has been left to the provincial leadership of the two parties since they have a better picture of the ground situation, the sources added.

PM Shahbaz and Zardari will have further discussions with their respective leaders in light of Tuesday’s deliberations, the sources said.

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