ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party is eyeing to foster a mind-boggling alliance with right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek for the next general polls, The Nation has learnt.

Close aides of the PPP leadership said that the two erstwhile political foes were being convinced to join a PPP-led alliance against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The Jamaat-e-Islami until now is a partner of the PTI in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa but the differences between the two allies have not been any secret.

The JI openly protested against the PTI’s decision last year to bring back Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao’s Qaumi Wattan Party in the coalition.

A senior PPP leader told The Nation, that Asif Ali Zardari was hoping to rope in the right-wing parties in the new alliance to prepare for the 2018 polls. “There have been talks with the JI and the PAT. You will see some unexpected alliance in the near future,” he said.

The PPP leader said that the recent statement of the party chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, seeking justice for the Model Town victims was an effort to appease the PAT leader Tahirul Qadri.

“Qadri has once been an ally of the PPP [during Benazir Bhutto’s time] and we are expecting him to once again support us,” he added.

In the recent days, Qadri too has stopped issuing anti-PPP statements as he continues to bash just the PML-N.

The PAT chief argues PM Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif should be punished for the Model Town killings.

The PPP leader said that the alliance with the JI might take time to mature but it was on the cards.

“They may keep their identity and support us,” he maintained.

JI lawmaker Sahibzada Tariqullah told The Nation that his party was open to talks with any party.

“You can’t rule out such an alliance. There have been contacts like always. In fact, whichever party forms alliance with us will learn discipline. There is a lack of discipline in the bigger parties these days,” he added.

Tariqullah said there was still some time to go for the elections, so “there may be so many makes and breaks.”

“Even if there is an alliance now, it can break before the elections. We have more than a year to go [in elections],” he remarked.

Asked if the PPP-JI alliance would look odd, he said: “There is no ideology left in the bigger parties. The JI is an ideological party but the bigger parties have changed their positions. This PPP is not that of the 1970s, so anything is possible.”

The PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik, who met Zardari in Dubai on Wednesday, said the former president was working on a new alliance for the next general elections.

“Old alliance will break and new alliance will be formed. You can expect anything. We are in contact with the other parties,” he said.

Asked about the meeting between former Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad and Zardari, Malik said: “Ishratul Ebad is an old friend of the PPP but as a former governor, he still has about two years before he can join active politics.”

He said that Ebad was an “experienced politician” and would take a mature decision in his own interest.

“At this point, he may not join any party,” Malik added.

He said that he had met the former governor on Wednesday and there was “unanimity” of views over the political situation back home.

“Zardari will return in a couple of days and we will start efforts for the new alliance,” Malik said, adding the PPP could continue cooperation with the PML-Q in Punjab.

“We know they [Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and former military ruler Pervez Musharraf] met in Dubai. The PML-Q is an independent party and can take its decisions. We will see how we can cooperate with each other,” the senator said.

Malik said that the PPP would never join hands with Musharraf for the general elections.

“This is out of question. We are open to talks with all other parties,” he added.

Prior to the 2013 elections, the PPP had formed an alliance with the PML-Q.

The PML-N made a loose alliance with the PML -Functional and Sunni Tehreek.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s PTI had joined hands with the JI.

Presently, the PML-N government is supported by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-Fazl), PML-F, Pakhtunkhwa Millai Awami Party (PkMAP) and other smaller parties.

The PML-F has been in contact with rival PML-Q and Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) to form an alliance or to launch a unified Muslim League.

Zardari and Bilawal have both been in the United States until recently.

The former president also underwent a medical check-up in the US.

He flew from there to London and then to Dubai.

Zardari is expected back home soon.

Bilawal is also likely to land in Dubai this week and remain there for a few days before returning to Pakistan.

The top PPP duo is also planning to contest a by-election for which the schedule is yet to be decided.

There is also no decision yet on who will be the opposition leader when the father and the son assume National Assembly’s membership.

Incumbent opposition leader Khurshid Shah believes Bilawal – being the PPP chief - should replace him.

PPP eyes mind-boggling alliance with JI

Shafqat Ali