The widening split

The departure of the JUI-F from the ruling coalition, followed by the MQM though only to the extent of the federal cabinet, should give the PPP-run government enough food for thought about how its performance is viewed by its allies. How the opposition parties rate it should be only too obvious.

President Zardari might proudly recount the score of its achievements – the NFC award, the constitutional amendments, etc. – as he did at Naudero on December 27, the third anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, but none of them measures up to the basic needs of the public.

The scale of their lives is weighed down by the phenomenal and seemingly unstoppable rise in prices, mounting insecurity and growing unemployment; in short, those very goods that are essential to survival are progressively going out of their reach. Only the privileged classes are not affected. The general run of people, largely illiterate though, are politically conscious enough not to be taken in by Mr Zardari’s promise that the remaining two years in the PPP’s term of office would see their problems sorted out; they have before them its record of the past three years that reeks of loot and plunder and mismanagement.

Clearly, the MQM left the cabinet in reaction to Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza’s charge that the party was behind the target killings in Karachi, the charge that he has refused to retract despite the MQM’s ultimatum of 10 days. The government sources, Minister Babar Awan for instance, have, however, been proclaiming that all would be well, and the MQM’s complaints met.

The MQM has also left the door open to get back into the cabinet, though its grievances about land holdings and taxing the rich, and not further squeezing the poor, have little chance of being heeded to – Nation