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PPP not after ministries in new set-up: Zardari

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday hinted that his party would not be taking any ministries in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet.

“I don’t think we are taking any ministries,” he told journalists outside the National Assembly (NA) after PPP’s Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was elected as the NA speaker unopposed.

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“We want to give a chance to our friends,” Zardari said, referring to the government’s coalition partners, consisting of eight political parties.

The former president’s statement comes after the PPP issued a notification on Saturday, inviting applications for party tickets in the national and provincial assemblies for the forthcoming general elections in the country.

PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said in a statement that each application should be accompanied by a bank draft of Rs40,000 for an NA party ticket and Rs30,000 for a provincial assembly ticket. “Applications must reach the party secretariat in Islamabad or Bilawal House in Karachi by April 30,” it added.

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The federal cabinet is yet to be announced even a week after Shehbaz assumed power. The premier has been taking his sweet time in appointing the federal cabinet as he wants to take along all his allies, particularly those who joined the former opposition after quitting the PTI coalition government.

According to reports, the PPP, the second largest party in the ruling coalition, had told Shehbaz Sharif that they had no desire to join his cabinet and wanted to support him from the outside. But the premier had been insisting the party join him. “We know the fragile nature of our alliance and we want to see the present government succeeding. We don’t want to give an impression that we have come to power only to get some portfolios or to enjoy perks and privileges,” a PPP leader had said earlier, adding, “We want business.” Another senior PPP leader said they were more interested in getting constitutional offices instead of cabinet portfolios. He said two constitutional offices had already fallen vacant after the resignations of the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker, while they were also planning to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has failed to take a final decision about being part of Shehbaz Sharif’s federal cabinet. MQM-P Rabita Committee members gave different opinions regarding the proposal of the new government for inclusion in the federal cabinet.

Some members insisted on accepting MQM-P’s representation in the federal cabinet, whereas convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and some other members gave their opinions to restrict the political coalition to the implementation of the agreement.

They said the political party should prioritise implementation of the agreement and resolution of the prevailing issues.

Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui will make a decision regarding the MQM-P’s inclusion in the cabinet after reaching Karachi from Islamabad.

On the other hand, Shehbaz Sharif and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman discussed important political issues and matters related to the formation of the cabinet.

Fazl called on the prime minister at the PM House and congratulated him on taking of oath of his office and appreciated his passion for the public welfare and resolution of public issues, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release. “You have showed the nation how to perform,” he said, while expressing full support and cooperation to the prime minister.

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