Breakthrough as PML-N accepts most of PPP’s Punjab-centric demands

LAHORE: The PPP, which is unhappy with the PML-N government on several issues, on Sunday said the latter has accepted most of its demands, including bringing an end to political victimisation of its workers and holding of local bodies’ elections in Punjab at an early date.

Talking to Dawn, PML-N leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan confirmed that his party had accepted most of the PPP’s demands.

Regarding holding of early local government elections, he said, “There has been a consensus that solution of basic problems of people lies in the local government, therefore, legislation will be made in the Punjab Assembly for an effective local government system before going into the polls.”

He further said it was also agreed that PPP would be given due share in development schemes in the province.

“The deadlock between the PML-N and PPP has ended as the former has promised to implement the agreement (reached between the two parties at the time of the formation of government),” said PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan while talking to reporters on Sunday following a fresh round of negotiations held between the two sides in Islamabad.

The meeting in Islam­abad, which discussed only Punjab-specific issues, was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab PA Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan, PM’s Special Assistant Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Saad Rafique from PML-N, and PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf, Nadeem Afzal Chan and Hasan Murtaza.

Mr Chan said, “PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also held a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in this regard, and the implementation of the agreement has begun.”

He said that PPP wanted an end to political victimisation of its workers in Punjab besides making a framework for the local government system.

“We want the local bodies polls at the earliest. The PPP does not want that all development funds are spent on ‘certain constituencies’. Development works should be carried out in all the Punjab and PPP should be taken on board while development funds are distributed,” Mr Chan said, adding that most of PPP’s demands had been accepted by the PML-N.

He said matters related to other provinces and distribution of PSDP funds was also being finalised and would be announced in a day or two at a joint press of both parties.

Another senior PPP leader from Punjab told Dawn that the PPP’s main concern in Punjab was that it’s lawmakers and leaders were not being obliged by the Maryam-led administration with regard to their works.

“The PPP leaders, especially in south Punjab, had complained to Mr Bilawal about being ignored by the provincial government for their works. They are of the view that the party has roots in the south and if its leaders and lawmakers’ works are not done the party’s interest will be damaged,” he said.

The PPP leader, who requested anonymity, further said that the PML-N’s assurance to address the PPP’s grievances meant that now focal persons would be appointed across Punjab to oblige the PPP leaders and lawmakers.

Senate Chairman and PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani had earlier declared that PPP would consider joining the PML-N government provided it was given a proper share and space in Punjab by the provincial government.

The two sides held their first meeting on Friday and pledged to sort out all issues between them, including the PPP’s reservations over the newly announced budget.

The PPP said the party would hold fortnightly meetings to see progress in the commitment made by the PMLN government in different matters.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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