Smaller coalition partners seek greater federal cabinet share
ISLAMABAD: At least seven coalition partners of prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan eye at least as many federal ministries in the next cabinet in exchange for their support to him in clinching the top executive office.
While they may be able to secure more than half a dozen federal portfolios, their total contribution in terms of number of MPs, who would vote for the prime minister in his election, will come to twenty-four keeping the independents and tribal areas’ MPs aside. This is a huge number considering the tight numerical scenario.
The alliance associates of the next federal government include the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Awami Muslim League (AML) of Sheikh Rashid, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) of Pir Pagara, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) of Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) of Jam Kamal and former chief minister Abdu Qaddus Bizenjo, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) apart from the independent winners, who have joined the PTI, and tribal areas MPs.
Almost all of these parties have either openly committed support or about to publicly announce their backing to the PTI, which otherwise is not in a position to have the required parliamentary strength because of the split mandate.
Regardless of the number of their members of the National Assembly (MNAs) who will add to Imran Khan’s tally, it is a natural corollary that they want to secure at least one federal ministry each given the realpolitik.
In the tight numerical scenario, every single vote carries immense worth and value in tipping the scales. According to the PTI’s own permutations, it has a maximum of 168 MPs standing behind it in a 342-member House.
The AML has the lone MNA, Sheikh Rashid, who aspires for a choice key ministry, not on the basis of the numerical power of his party but due to the unwavering support he has extended to Imran Khan over the past few years in taking on the PTI chairman’s rivals. He has always been the main speaker at the PTI rallies. He had been the minister for information and railways during the rules of Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif.
The Sindh-based GDA, which was touted as a major challenge to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the July 25 elections in this province, has just two MNAs.
The PML-Q has three MNAs, two directly returned and a woman to be elected on reserved seats from Punjab. If it’s top leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi comes to National Assembly, which he is not, his party will have four votes in the Lower House of Parliament.
Apart from getting its share in the federal cabinet, at least one ministry, the PML-Q is going to bag a key slot in Punjab, most likely the provincial Speaker. Pervaiz Elahi has been mentioned as the one holding this senior position that he had once enjoyed during the Sharifs’ rule. The PML-N has a total of ten provincial lawmakers. It is getting a sizable share at the federal and Punjab levels.
The BAP, which abruptly emerged in Balochistan after the ouster of the coalition provincial government of the PML-N, National Party (NP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), has five MNAs. Its significant tally apparently makes it qualified to land its representative in the federal cabinet.
The MQM-P with seven federal seats, more than any other partners of the next coalition government, carries substantial weight, expecting due share in Imran Khan’s federal team. As usual, conflicting statements have emerged from different MQM-P leaders about cooperation with the future government. One of them said his party would not be part of the next setup but will support it.
It will be after a long time that the BNP-M, with four seats, will be having a stake in the federal government. However, its chief Akhtar Mengal is unlikely to be part of the federal cabinet and will nominate his MNA for induction in the cabinet.