ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is eyeing seat adjustment with rivals – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab to improve its standing in the 2018 general elections, political sources said.

Close aides of former president Asif Ali Zardari told The Nation, that the seat adjustment would be discussed with the two parties after the PPP had finalised an alliance with like-minded parties.

“The PPP wants to do better in Punjab. A new alliance is expected soon. Once the alliance has been announced, we will look into seats where we can win with a little help from the PML-N or the PTI. We can help them where they are in a better position. This will be beneficial for all of us,” a senior PPP leader said.

He said “soft contacts” were on with the PML-N and the PTI and later the parties could finalise the deal “with no strings attached”.

This week, Zardari said that the PPP would unveil its election strategy once the Supreme Court had announced its decision on Panama case against the Sharif family.

The PPP is already in talks with the PML-Q for an alliance. 

Punjab was once a stronghold of the PPP during the peak of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but it slowly drifted away to the political right or pro-right parties.

The ruling PML-N has been firmly in control of the province for the past many years.

The province, with a bigger population than all the other provinces combined, is effectively the “kingmaker” with scores of the National Assembly seats on offer.

Even in the last elections, the PML-N came to power riding on the popularity wave in Punjab.

In other provinces, its performance was insignificant.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has appointed a new team in the province, dividing it into two parts – the south and central Punjab – and is also working to revamp the party at the grassroots level to realise his dream of doing better in the populous unit.

The PPP chief launched a “save Punjab” campaign in January.

In 2013, the PPP won only eight seats in the Punjab Assembly out of 371, prompting the commentators to say that it has been reduced to a “pressure group” instead of a national party.

The party was nowhere in the contest in the local government elections held in Islamabad and the provinces last year except Sindh.

In the 2013 general elections too, the party was confined to Sindh.

Since 2013, the party has been struggling for revival as Imran Khan-led PTI tried to fill the vacuum.

Speaking to The Nation, PPP Secretary-General Nayyar Bokhari said that political dialogue was a continuous process.

“Even [Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif went to Imran Khan’s residence. We cannot stop the process of talks,” he said.

Bokhari, former chairman Senate, said that Zardari had already declared that the party would wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Panama leaks before announcing its new strategy.

“It would be premature to take decisions [much before the polls]. Let the time come and we will decide. There is no harm in political dialogue and we will not close our doors for talks,” he said.

Bokhari claimed that the PPP would win back Punjab in the coming elections.

“We will sweep the polls. The party is all geared up. If fair elections are held, we will win,” he added.

Zardari’s Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the party was working to regain its lost glory in Punjab.

“There would be new alliances. Seat adjustment is always on the table for all the parties. The basic aim will be to do better,” he said.

Senator Babar said that the PPP was getting a good response in Punjab as the PML-N had failed to deliver in the last several years.