According to credible news reports, in a meeting of party members in Lahore, PML-N has decided to part ways with the PPP. After giving the Unification Bloc of PML-Q dissidents a parliamentary status in the Punjab Assembly, the PML-N had already paved the way for such an outcome. This came on the eve of the expiry of the deadline for the implementation of the 10-point agenda given by PML-N to the government as a condition for future cooperation.While the government has made some progress on the implementation of this plan, the two parties have not been able to agree on three important issues: procedure for the appointment of chief election commissioner and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), accountability law, and mechanism for the appointment of heads of public sector entities and constitutional bodies. In fact, in the case of ECP, PML-N’s complaint was that the PPP had not constituted the parliamentary committee for this purpose. The government, however, has made some progress on other areas. Although it was not possible to implement all the points on the agenda within the stipulated deadline and it was being speculated that the two parties would once againt come to some kind of agreement, the unusually hard stance taken by the PML-N chief lately indicated it had some other card up its sleeve.
Now it has been reported that the PPP will be out of the coalition government in Punjab and its ministers will be replaced by at least two members from the Unification Bloc.It remains to be seen whether this will prove to the first ripple in the destabilisation of the entire system crafted as a result of the 2008 elections. The PML-N’s handicap of lack of majority in Punjab had earlier compelled it to desist from calling for a confidence motion in parliament when the PPP-led government had lost its majority after the pulling out of the MQM and JUI-F from the coalition. Now that the Unification Bloc has joined hands with it in Punjab, PML-N does not face any such dilemma. It has the relevant numbers to keep its government intact. While the PPP is likely to attempt to appease the PML-N further, the PML-N seems to be looking at the upcoming general elections where any association with a government perceived to be highly corrupt and inefficient would be judged harshly by the voters. The ouster of the PPP from Punjab will considerably affect its position at the Centre, where it has barely enough votes to prove its majority. Although it has tried to ensure continued support of the MQM in a high profile visit of the PPP delegation to Nine Zero, the underlying reasons for MQM’s ire are still there and can erupt anytime again. Also, MQM would like to take advantage of PPP’s weakness to demand further concessions. This has put the PPP in a tight spot.It is moot whether the country can afford the destabilisation of the system and an early election, a possibility that the PML-N seems to be preparing for. It is hoped that before taking extreme steps, all the political parties will take a step back and think of the country’s interests instead of merely their own – Dailytimes