The decision was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif
The decision was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the PML-N president.
During the meeting, which lasted 90 minutes and was held at Mr Gilani’s residence, the two leaders decided to work out details of a new power-sharing formula on Sunday.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, will attend the Sunday meeting. Sources said the PML-N had again ‘politely’ turned down the suggestion made by the prime minister that the party rejoins the federal government.
Until now, it had been the stated policy of the PPP to ‘stay in the Punjab coalition only if the PML-N agrees to join the federal government’.
An official announcement said Mr Gilani informed Mr Shahbaz that the PPP would remain part of the coalition government in Punjab ‘in the greater national interest and in pursuance of its policy of national reconciliation’.
The announcement said the PPP made this decision ‘in accordance with the Charter of Democracy with a view to focusing on real issues like extremism, militancy, poverty, unemployment, inflation and energy shortage confronting the nation’.
‘It is imperative that in these challenging times all political forces should join hands to meet both internal and external threats,’ he was quoted to have told the PML-N president.
The announcement said the chief minister welcomed the PPP decision and expressed confidence that this would ‘strengthen democratic traditions’.
Although People’s Party is likely to insist on retaining its old share (40 per cent) in cabinet and administration, the PML-N has already made it clear that the PPP would not be given the share the two parties had previously agreed upon.&
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan had recently said that his party also wanted to accommodate PML-Q’s ‘unification bloc’ in the cabinet as they had stood by the PML-N when governor’s rule was imposed in Punjab after the Supreme Court disqualified Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif.
‘We have been telling the PPP for a long time to quit the coalition and sit in opposition as we have done at the centre. But they are not ready to do so and are continuing to sit in the coalition government,’ he said.
Not everyone in Punjab PPP wants to remain in the coalition government. Some senior leaders believe that the decision will cost the party heavily.&
But others argue that the decision had been made to save the civilian setup and strengthen democracy. ‘The party leadership decided not to sit in opposition in Punjab because of some external factors,’ a PPP leader told Dawn.
‘Some foreign forces (the United States and the United Kingdom) wish us to get along. That is why the decision to stay in the provincial coalition was made just a day before President Asif Zardari’s foreign tour,’ he added.