ISLAMABAD -  The appointment process of new Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has once again brought the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) closer to its rival Pakistan People’s Party at a crucial time ahead of next general elections.

Apparently, the government and the opposition have started consultations for the appointment of new NAB chief but the contacts between the premier and the opposition leader are not that simple as it may lead to a great deal for the next general elections.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abasi and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah held two meetings over the appointment of next chief and exchanged names of their respective nominees.

After the second meeting on Tuesday last, Shah said, the government had suggested three names, including Justice (Retd) Rehmat Jafry, Justice (Retd) Chaudhry Aijaz and Director Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan. 

The opposition proposed Justice (Retd) Faqir Mohammad Khokhar, Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal and former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan Ishtiaque Ahmed Khan, he added. He said that he and the prime minister will further consult on the matter.

Well-placed sources informed The Nation that both parties leadership is trying to make best deal for next general election under the shadow of the appointment of new Chairman of NAB. 

They said that the government has offered the PPP that it will be ready to pick candidate for the slot of chairman NAB from the PPP given names but in return it (PPP) will help the PML-N in making the next federal government.

They also claimed that PPP is ready to accept the ruling party demands but it will not be ready to share the power of Sindh with any political party and also wants to get a lion share in the next Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Sources claimed that former president Asif Zardari does not trust the leadership of PML-N as according to him Nawaz Sharif has deceived him on different occasions and that is why the PPP co-chairman has sought guarantee from Sharif‘s side through a business tycoon.  

A senior leader of PPP told The Nation that the Asif Zardari is only dealing with the government on the appointment of next chairman NAB. 

He said that Zardari has sidelined young chairman of PPP over this matter and Syed Khursheed Shah has briefed him thrice so far in this regard.

He also criticised Zardari’s interaction with Nawaz Sharif through a guarantor, saying the PPP will pay the price in next election especially in Punjab due to Zaradri’s this kind of political gambling. 

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He mentioned that Zardari’s close aide and business tycoon has conveyed Sharif’s message to him and also told that other stakeholders are also seeing the purposed names of both sides critically for the office of NAB chairman.

He said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should take the party leadership into confidence in this regard.  He said PPP senior leaders belonging to Punjab are not in a position to contest election on the party ticket after the result of by-election NA-120.

PPP central Secretary Information Chaudhry Manzoor said in the light of constitution, PM selects a panel of three names and consult it with the opposition leader. He said almost all major opposition parties have shared the names for new chairman NAB but only Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf did not give its nominee in this regard.

He said that PTI was trying to create deadlock on the issue so that the matter goes to the Supreme Court. He said that Bilawal and other senior leadership are in the loop.

He said that it is also expected that all six names which were presented from both sides would be rejected. The process of the appointment of chairman NAB will not be completed under any deal.

Talking to The Nation, PML-N Secretary Information said Nawaz Sahrif does not need any guarantor for political affairs. He rejected all the conspiracy theories and said that his party would adhere to constitutional guidelines for the appointment of new NAB chief.