ISLAMABAD - The ruling PML-N is trying to woo the JI as the religious party’s differences with its senior coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI, seems to be on verge of collapse, political sources said.

"The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is our natural ally. We have good relations with them despite the fact that they are not sitting with us in the assemblies. There have been contacts from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to get them into the government", a cabinet member told The Nation.

"The JI finds it hard to continue with the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and we think the PML-N and JI can work together as there are certain similarities between our policies,” he added. The cabinet member, who asked not to be named, also confided that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ready to offer a couple of cabinet slots to the JI if they join the coalition at the Centre.

"Of course if they join the government, they will get their share like our other allies. We are sure we can work together", the minister said. He pointed out that there have been 'positive' contacts at the highest level which can be a step towards a formal alliance.

Even before the 2013 elections, the PML-N and the JI had come closer to forming an alliance but the talks failed as the Nawaz League wanted guarantees from the JI that they would not part ways after the elections. The religious party was offered support in 15 constituencies in Punjab if they agreed for a long term alliance.

After the talks broke down, the JI contested independently and decided to form a coalition with the PTI in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and sit on the opposition benches elsewhere. But this uneasy marriage seems to have reached a dead-end.

Last year too the PTI and the JI had almost approached the point of no return but a meeting between JI chief Sirajul Haq and PTI leader Imran Khan saved the collation. The JI chief later said both the parties were independent in their policies yet "there are many similarities as we both want end of status quo, exploitation-based system and are working to transform the country into a true Islamic welfare state".

Talking to The Nation, JI lawmaker Sahibzada Tariqullah said the coalition with the PTI is not running as smoothly as it should. "They have their own priorities. This is not a heart-to-heart connection. The alliance is for the sake of alliance.”

He said the JI had gained in the local bodies’ polls which showed that "we are still popular". He added, "The ideal situation would be not an alliance (with any party) but a full-fledged mandate to the JI to change the things. The people have tested all the parties, now they should vote for us in the next elections so that we can bring the promised change".

Tariqullah said, "We have been supporting the PML-N government on good steps and criticising their bad moves. There are a lot of similarities between our manifestoes". He said on papers, the PML-N is a natural ally of the JI but "they have also not delivered, so we are hesitant to join them too".

He opined that the budget, presented by the government last week, was "not up to the expectations of the people. There was no relief for the general public". He however said there have not been any big scandals during the current PML-N government which indicates that "they are not going astray".

"With the PML-N, we always had good relations. This time too we are not confronting each other. We cannot rule out working together", he remarked. "Even if we don't form an alliance with the PML-N, we will continue to support good policies and the decisions that improve the life of the common man", he avowed.

But the JI leader said they also have the option of forming an alliance with the religious parties. "You will agree that the religious parties are performing much better and we can form a grand alliance to challenge the tested parties,” he continued.

Rashid Naseem, another prominent JI leader, said his party had not supported PTI's decision to hold protests in Islamabad because it would have contributed to undemocratic measures in Pakistan. He said his party believes in dialogue and that "political consensus is the only way to promote democracy and avoid any change, which is not good for the country in the long run".

Earlier, the PML-Quaid had tried to form an alliance with the JI before the Senate elections this year. However, there was no positive response from the JI. This promoted the PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to concentrate on uniting various factions of the PML.