Sharif, Zardari discuss government formation

February 22nd, 2008 - 12:19 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad, Feb 21 (IANS) Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the leaders of the two largest political parties in Pakistan’s newly elected National Assembly, Thursday evening discussed the formation of a coalition government after a hung verdict. Sharif, former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), drove to the Zardari House here and held talks with Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and husband of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

This was the first time the two leaders met after Monday’s general elections, in which the people voted to throw out the ruling PML-Quaid.

The PPP has got 87 seats in the 272-member assembly, PML-N has 66, PML-Q has 40, while the Awami National Party (ANP) has 10 seats.

If the reserved seats are added, the numbers could go up to 113 for PPP, 84 to PML-N and 14 to ANP, which will take them very close to the two-third majority mark in the 342-member National Assembly.

The PML-N has insisted that the release of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and seven judges detained after declaration of emergency by President Pervez Musharraf is their first priority, while PPP has talked in broader terms of making the judiciary independent.

Earlier in the day, Zardari had met ANP leader Asfanydar Wali Khan and had agreed on the main points, which included independence of judiciary and freedom of expression.

The question regarding Musharraf’s future will also be a major point on the agenda, as Nawaz Sharif, who was removed in 1999 by a military coup, bitterly opposes him.

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