What is the real row between PML-N, PPP?

PPP wants share of appointments in Punjab’s bureaucracy particularly where it has parliamentary presence

By  Ansar Abbasi   |  
June 14, 2024
(From L to R) PM Shahbaz Sharif, President Asif Zardari, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto during the press conference on February 20, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP

While Imran Khan continues to serve as the main reason for a bond between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Maryam Nawaz’s style of governance is upsetting for Bilawal Bhutto’s party.

There are some issues relating to budgetary matters that make the PPP uneasy but one serious concern of the party is about Punjab where it is complaining of not getting political space as was reportedly assured when the PPP had decided to join the treasury benches to help the PML-N form the government.

According to sources, the PPP wants its share of appointments in Punjab’s bureaucracy particularly in those districts where the PPP has its parliamentary presence. Maryam Nawaz, however, is not willing to make changes in the bureaucracy on the basis of politicians’ recommendations.

It is said that the Punjab chief minister has even categorically told her own party MPs that no political interference in civil administration and police would be acceptable. This decision of the chief minister has not only made many of PML-N MPs uncomfortable but it is really upsetting for PPP Members of National Assembly (MNAs) and Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) from Punjab.

It is not clear whether Maryam Nawaz will allow the PPP MNAs and MPAs from Punjab to have their choice officers in their respective areas? An N-Leaguer said he does not think the chief minister will allow this.

The PPP’s reservations against the PML-N about the budget, presented on Wednesday, though attracted media’s attention, there is nothing really serious about it and will not cause any real threat to the Shehbaz Sharif government.

Background interactions reveal that no matter what the differences between the two sides are, including even the issues in Punjab, the PPP will not let the Shehbaz Sharif government fall because of Imran Khan’s fashion of politics.

It is said that Khan’s continuing attack on the military establishment actually is the main source of strength for Shehbaz government. It also unites the PML-N and PPP despite their differences on certain issues. For some powerful stakeholders, it is believed, the weakening of present government or any serious rift between the PML-N and PPP would mean strengthening of Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Some latent forces, it is said, may also not let the PML-N and PPP to part ways from each other.

The PPP, which after the Feb 8 elections had opted to sit on the treasury benches, did not join the Shehbaz Sharif cabinet. The PPP, however, got the presidency, office of chairman Senate, deputy speaker National Assembly and two governors. The PPP had agreed that it would not let the government fall.