Islamabad: Signs of discontent among the constituents of Pakistan’s ruling coalition appeared early with PPP chairman and foreign minister designate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari linking his joining the federal cabinet with the induction of lawmakers representing smaller parties that played a hand in former PM Imran Khan’s ouster. Bilawal won’t be a part of the Shehbaz Sharif government if there is no place in the cabinet for Moshin Dawar, leader of the anti-military rights group Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), along with lawmakers of allies like Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP) and Awami National Party (ANP), sources said. The PPP chief is currently in London to discuss with PM Nawaz Sharif the promises and agreements that his party made with coalition partners who supported the no-trust move against Imran.
“Bilawal’s deliberations with the PML-N chief will focus on cabinet expansion, redress of grievances of the coalition partners, particularly of the Baloch and Pashtun nationalist parties, besides introduction of electoral and political reforms ahead of next year’s polls,” a senior PPP functionary said.
The security establishment, sources said, has been against Dawar being made a minister due to his party’s stand on accountability of the powerful military for alleged rights abuses committed against the Pashtun community, including enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings, during its nearly two-decade war against terrorist outfits in the country’s northwest.
Another key ruling coalition partner, Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led Jamiat Ulema-eIslam, has already shown displeasure over the possible induction of lawmakers from PTM and ANP in the cabinet as his right-wing party has been a key political rival of Pashtun nationalist parties in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Balochistan provinces.
Shehbaz cabinet sworn in
Earlier, a 37-member federal cabinet took the oath of office, just over a week after the then leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif replaced Imran Khan as the country’s PM through a post-midnight no-trust vote in parliament. President Arif Alvi, who had excused himself from administering oath to Sharif, skipped the event again, leaving the duties to Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. The oath ceremony was postponed it due to Alvi’s refusal.