Nawaz, Fazl agree on poll cooperation
LAHORE, Feb 25: The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) have decided ‘in principle’ to work together in the coming election.
The two major opposition parties reached the agreement during a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the former’s residence here on Monday.
“Both parties have agreed to cooperate in the election,” Mr Sharif told reporters at a joint briefing.
“The parties will form committees to decide modalities for working together in the polls.” The move, political analysts believe, is aimed more at keeping the JUI-F engaged than entering into any serious dialogue with the party which has its following mostly in Pakhtun areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
They see it as a move to balance PML-N’s apparent tilt towards Mahmood Khan Achakzai’s Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party which also depends on Pakhtun voters and is a rival of the JUI-F in Balochistan.
The PML-N chief said his party had accepted JUI-F’s invitation to attend an all parties conference (APC) to be hosted by Maulana Fazl in Islamabad on Feb 28 to explore ways of restoring peace in tribal areas.
He praised Maulana Fazl’s efforts and said his party was ready to support every measure aimed at providing peace and security to citizens.
Analysts noted with interest that despite promises of electoral cooperation, Mr Sharif avoided saying that he himself would attend the APC and instead nominated Raja Zafrul Haq, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar and PML-N Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra.
The same leaders had been sent to an APC recently held by the Awami National Party which the PML-N does not consider being close to itself.
The former prime minister said both the parties had also discussed the caretaker set-up and agreed that all parties needed to be consulted before the appointment of an interim government. He said that in the event of failure to evolve consensus, the decision of the majority would be accepted in line with democratic norms. He was confident that the country would see a fair and transparent electoral exercise soon.
Maulana Fazl said the views of his party on various national issues were closer to those of the PML-N than of the PPP.
In an apparent reference to past differences between the JUI-F and PML-N, he said: “Politicians do have divergence of opinions but they remain friends.”
He asserted that the crisis being faced by the country could not be handled by any one party and stressed the need for uniting all parties in order to overcome the challenges.
When contacted the Jamaat-i-Islami said it did not see its electoral talks with the Nawaz League having been affected by the latter’s decision to work in cooperation with the JUI-F during elections.
“This will be a sort of seat adjustment as the JUI-F will be cooperating with the PML-N only where the latter has its following in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” JI leader Dr Farid Piracha said.
The JI and JUI-F had been allies in the six-party religious alliance, MMA, which ruled then NWFP from 2002 to 2007. But they developed serious differences on certain issues and the alliance was disbanded before the 2008 polls which were boycotted by the JI.
Pointing out that the JUI-F would need the JI and vice versa in other pockets of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Piracha said religious parties had come into contact at some places but the contacts had not yet been formalised.
He said his party could also consider seat-adjustment accords with the Nawaz League as well as Tehrik-i-Insaaf in certain areas.