PML applies for opposition leader's slot in legislature in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Sep 8 (UNI) Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League today formally claimed the seat of opposition leader in the National Assembly days after quitting the coalition government with Pakistan People's Party.

''We have submitted an application to speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza asking her to allot the seat to Pakistan Muslim League (N), which is the biggest opposition party in the lower house,'' a party's MP, Hanif Abbasi told reporters in Islamabad.

He said that Chaudhry Nisar Ali, the party's parliamentary leader in the Assembly will be appointed opposition leader.

Earlier, Speaker had appointed parliamentary leader of the former ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and former chief minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as opposition leader.

But PML(N), which emerged as the second largest party in February elections with more than 90 seats in the lower house decided to claim the opposition leader's seat after quitting the coalition government over differences with the PPP on restoration of judges deposed by former president Pervez Musharraf in November last year.

Musharraf, who seized power from Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in October 1999 and served as president for over eight years, also resigned in August amid threats of impeachment by ruling coalition for gross violations of constitution and misconduct.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharif met Mr Zardari today for the first time after his party quit the coalition to congratulate him on his election as the country's new president for a period of five years.

However, the former two-time industrialist Prime Minister did not accept Mr Zardari's offer to re-join the coalition.

''Mr Zardari offered Nawaz Sharif to re-join the coalition but he did not accept the offer and said his party would like to play a constructive role while sitting on the opposition benches,'' party spokesman Ahsan Iqbal told reporters in Islamabad.

The ex=premier and the current president had agreed to form coalition governments in centre and Punjab province in March after reaching a historic understanding to restore all the deposed judges.

However, the PML(N) quit the coalition after the PPP failed to implement understanding on the judges issue even after lapse of five months.

But the PPP decided not to leave the coalition government in Punjab headed by Mr Sharif's younger brother Shabaz Sharif.

''We hope both the PPP and PML(N) will respect each other's mandate and refrain from destabilising governments in the centre and in Punjab,'' Iqbal quoted Sharif as telling Zardari.

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