Islamabad/London: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday met PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London during which they discussed the “overall political situation” in Pakistan and vowed to work together on issues pertaining to politics and national interest.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — the two main political parties — have been alternatively in power when the military was not ruling the country. The powerful Army has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence.
Bilawal, who has excused himself from taking the oath as the foreign minister leading to speculation that all allies of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif are not on the same page, met Nawaz at the office of the latter’s son at the Stanhope House in London.
The two leaders “discussed the overall political situation” in the country and expressed their determination to move forward with mutual understanding and consensus in national political affairs, according to the PPP media cell.
Nawaz – against whom several corruption cases were launched by the government of former prime minister Khan – had left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission allowing him to go abroad for his treatment.
The 72-year-old three-time prime minister had given an undertaking to the Lahore High Court to return to Pakistan, citing his record to face the process of law and justice within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors. He was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven-year imprisonment in Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail.
Bilawal also congratulated Nawaz on the ouster of the “selected government” of Imran Khan and the victory of Nawaz’s nephew Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s elections.
The meeting was also attended by PPP leaders Sherry Rehman, Naveed Qamar, and Qamar Zaman Kaira. PML-N leaders Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Ishaq Dar, and Abid Sher Ali were also present at the meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said there was no specific agenda. He said Bilawal and Nawaz would have a “political discussion” before the former would return to Pakistan to take his oath as a cabinet member.
Speaking to journalists in London, Bilawal said the coalition government would try to once again work towards the restoration of democracy in the country, The News reported.
“There was no foreign conspiracy against Imran Khan, it was a democratic conspiracy […] It was not White House, but a conspiracy hatched at the Bilawal House,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.
He said that he came to meet the PML-N supremo as once everyone is on the same page, only then can they resolve Pakistan’s issues.
“PML-N and PPP will solve Pakistan’s issues once they are on the same page,” he said, asking all the institutions to remain within their constitutional parameters.
However, PPP sources had earlier said that Bilawal was meeting Nawaz to express reservations of his party and other allies about the formation of the federal cabinet.
The PPP is divided on the issue of Bilawal joining the federal cabinet as the country’s new foreign minister in the coalition government under Shehbaz.
PPP is the second-largest party in the current coalition government of Prime Minister Shehbaz who was appointed on April 11.
The Cabinet formation was delayed for days due to differences among the coalition parties, mainly due to the initial refusal by the PPP to join the Cabinet. However, Shehbaz Sharif ensured that Bilawal’s party joined his government.
But the absence of Bilawal – the son of former two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari – in the first phase of Cabinet formation on Tuesday raised many eyebrows.
Sources in the PPP said Bilawal, 33, is still reluctant to join the Cabinet because it may hinder his political activities ahead of elections which are likely to be held by the end of the year. But Shehbaz Sharif, 70, is adamant that he should join.