Cracks start appearing in new Pakistan's coalition government - GulfToday

Cracks start appearing in new Pakistan's coalition government


Members of Pakistan's new cabinet take the oath in a ceremony in Islamabad on Tuesday. Reuters

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The anticipated unease and friction in the new ruling coalition has started showing its tentacles at the very outset when the federal cabinet has been put together.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s Balochistan National Party (BNP) refused to join the cabinet in protest against a firing incident in Chaghi that he first wants to be investigated. However, the Balochistan government has now formed a joint investigation team to probe the incident.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was expected to take oath as the foreign minister, delayed his induction in the cabinet.

To sort out the contentious matter, he went to London to meet Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif.

PPP Secretary-General Farhatullah Babar confirmed Bilawal’s departure and said the main purpose of meeting Sharif was to congratulate him on the coalition government and discuss the current political situation.

However, other sources said although there was an understanding between the PPP and PML-N that Bilawal would take over as the foreign minister, he did not do that despite attending the cabinet oath-taking ceremony as a guest. This meant there was some issue in the coalition government that he wanted to resolve first.

The sources said Bilawal wanted to discuss major issues with Sharif for their amicable solutions. They said Bilawal also wanted to take up the non-inclusion of the Awami National Party (ANP), BNP and Moshin Dawar in the cabinet.

“If all goes well in talks with Sharif, Bilawal may take the oath as foreign minister on his return from London,” these sources said.

At the same time, PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar excused himself from assuming office as minister of state. “I want to focus on upcoming general elections and I have also informed the party about my decision,” he said in a statement.

Mengal, an ally of the federal government, did not attend the oath-taking ceremony of the federal cabinet in protest against the Chaghi incident.

In a separate development, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ‘honoured’ the wish of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif to accommodate Javed Latif in the federal cabinet despite the fact that he does not even have talking terms with Latif since he had raised questions over his (Shahbaz’s) alleged links with the establishment.

Although Latif, a member of the National Assembly from Sheikhupura, did not take oath of the ministry on Tuesday citing that he was busy in the party rally in Okara, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) insider said he did so because Shahbaz Sharif would not have been comfortable with his presence at the ceremony. Latif may take oath some other day.

“Shahbaz had to include Latif in his team of 37 with a heavy heart as the latter is a blue-eyed politician of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz who pushed her father (Nawaz) to make him part of the cabinet of the new coalition government,” he said.

The insider said Latif might not attend cabinet meetings on a regular basis because of his sour relations with Shahbaz.

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