ISLAMABAD - A crucial meeting between Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, primarily to discuss the grievances and demands of the former with the government, is expected in a next few days, informed sources in the ruling alliance.
The sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that a couple of days back Prime Minister Sharif rang Fazlur Rehman to fix a meeting with him, but the meeting was deferred for time being due to some pressing engagements of the JUI-F chief and now both the leaders would likely meet sometime during the next week.
The sources in JUI-F confirmed the telephonic contact between the two and their agreement on holding an early meeting to resolve differences between the two coalition partners.
The sources in JUI-F said that the party had a number of issues with its senior coalition partner at the federal level including the divergent viewpoint of both on Protection of Pakistan Amendment Ordinance (PPO) 2014, non-provision of portfolios of ‘choice’ for its two federal cabinet members, who have not been given portfolios since their induction in the cabinet, and acceptance of their policy in the ongoing war on terror.
The sources further informed that a few days back key members of ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Federal Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid went to the JUI-F chief for holding talks but the latter had declined to discuss the issues and asked them that he would only take up these issues with party chief, as the meetings held through such channels in the past had failed to yield any results. So, in this backdrop Prime Minister Sharif himself rang him up to fix a meeting with him, the sources close to JUI-F leadership confirmed to The Nation.
Right now Rehman is in Kalat to attend the marriage ceremony of the scion of party’s Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and, according to one of the senior party member, he would be returning back to the federal capital today (Sunday). So he could have a meeting with Prime Minister Sharif on Monday and if both leaders could not meet on Monday then the meeting would delay till the later half of the week because Prime Minister Sharif would be leaving for Tajikistan on Tuesday (June 17) on a two-day official visit. Sources in PML-N said that being part of the government they would definitely take JUI-F along and the ‘minor irritants’ would be removed when the heads of both the parties would meet in the coming days.
Terming the upcoming Sharif-Rehman meeting crucial one, sources in JUI-F said that the party chief would seek resolution of all their outstanding issues with its senior coalition partner including the allocation of portfolios for their two ministers in the federal cabinet.
Sources in the government said that JUI-F leadership was demanding the portfolios of its choice for both its members in the federal cabinet, the point JUI-F leadership had always denied and party’s spokesman Jan Achakzai made it loud and clear on many occasions that their politics is based on principles and not ministerial portfolios.
However, a senior member of PML-N confirmed to The Nation that JUI-F wanted the ministries of communications and housing for its federal cabinet members and had also demanded that the ministry to be allocated to its state minister Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, there should be no federal minister. It means the JUI-F also wants full control of the ministry under Haideri, who is also party’s central secretary general. Political analysts commenting on the current state of affairs between the two strange bedfellows - PML-N and JUI-F - said that the latter is well poised to slice a bargain of its choice with former because of the uncertain position it has been caught due to the ganging up of political opponents against the government, and in the given situation PML-N could not afford to lose the support of its junior coalition partner.