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Pakistan’s PML-N, PPP continue power sharing talks

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A second round of talks between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party is expected to take place on Friday on the power-sharing formula between them for the formation of a coalition government, according to a media report.

The Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led PPP has promised to back PML-N in the formation of a government as well as the election of the next prime minister, on the condition that Nawaz Sharif’s party will support them in elections to key constitutional offices like that of the President.

A scheduled second round of talks between the Contact and Coordination Committees (CCCs) of the PPP and PML-N could not take place on Thursday, as both sides sought more time to assess proposals that came up in their first meeting. The next meeting between the two sides is likely to take place on Friday for clarity on the power-sharing formula, the Dawn newspaper reported.

However, given the tough competition between individuals, nominating people to fill those coveted spots is proving to be a tough nut to crack for PPP chairman Bilawal, the report said.

Sources said that former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was in contention for National Assembly Speaker. He had been instructed to retain his Senate seat, indicating that he may be fielded for the slot of Senate chairman.

On Tuesday, two of Pakistan’s major political parties – the PML-N and the PPP – said they will form a coalition government after the February 8 inconclusive elections.

Their move means that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of Imran Khan will not be in power, despite independent candidates backed by it gaining the maximum number of seats in the National Assembly.

Khan and PTI have alleged that their mandate was stolen by the establishment and lodged massive protests across the country.

Crackdown on PTI

A fresh round of crackdown has been launched allegedly by the Pakistan Army against PTI-backed independents in a bid to put pressure on the winners in the elections to change their loyalties to parties backed by the powerful military.

Police arrested successful independent candidates backed by the PTI, and conducted raids on their properties across Punjab province, party sources said. Arrest warrants have been issued for the PTI-nominated candidates for the slot of chief minister in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

PTI’s prime minister candidate Omar Ayub on Friday secured a pre-arrest bail from a local court to anticipate his possible arrest in any unknown case to stop him from going to Parliament to compete against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led six-party alliance candidate Shehbaz Sharif for the coveted slot of prime minister.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has summoned Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan for inciting the public against the state.

PTI has also expressed concern about the health of Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Biwi, imprisoned at Khan’s Bani Gala residence. The party claimed that the “fascist regime” was denying her medical aid.

Bushra and Khan have been convicted with multiple years’ sentences in the Toshakhana expensive gift case and the iddat case which declared their marriage as un-Islamic.

Khan challenges sentences

The jailed former Pakistan prime minister has challenged in the Islamabad High Court his sentences in the cipher and Toshakhana corruption cases.

Separate petitions have been filed before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) through Barrister Ali Zafar against Khan’s sentences in the Toshakhana and cipher cases.

The petition on the cipher (secret diplomatic cable) case made the state and Interior Ministry Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar respondents in the case.

It urged the high court to set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit him of the charges.

On January 30, Khan, 71, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special court for leaking sensitive state secrets. (PTI)

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