New political alignment

One should not be surprised if the PPP’s hectic pursuit of roping in the PML-Q to become part of the federal coalition government has really paid off, as some media reports are suggesting. Whatever the present status of the talks that have been going on between their leaderships for some time past to strike a deal beneficial to both the parties, it is undeniable that the two have their own compulsions for getting closer to each other. The PPP is in desperate need of a comfortable majority in Parliament to ensure that the forthcoming budget is passed; for, though the MQM is committed to back the government in the NA while remaining outside the ruling set-up, it might choose not to support, for instance, certain taxation measures that the government is under an obligation of the IMF to have them imposed, and no other party in the House is willing to bail it out, it would find itself in a minority and in trouble. Thus, it is obvious that for sheer survival in the corridors of power, the PPP leaders have found it expedient to give an interpretation of their earlier epithet of ‘Qatil League’ for the PML-Q that relieves its present members of this charge.

On the other hand, the top leadership of the PML-Q wants to join the ruling coalition, if for nothing else but to save the skin of Moonis Elahi, who is currently facing the charge of corruption and is under arrest. Yet, some circles within these parties continue to maintain that so far no agreement has been ‘signed and sealed’. Rather, a number of influential leaders on either side, the PPP as well as the PML-Q, have their hang-ups about forming this alliance. The opposition to joining hands with PML-Q mainly comes from those PPP members who have not reconciled with its association with Musharraf and their mutual hostility of the past. On the PML-Q side, there is primarily the question of the future of the party in case it boards the PPP ship that is already badly battered by corruption and misgovernance, and thus could sink the PML-Q’s prospects at the next general elections.

However, there are also reports that its leaders are approaching the MQM and the JUI-F to get them back to the fold for a broad-based government to form. Another dimension of the role of the (intelligence) ‘agencies’ has been alleged on the floor of the House by the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in effecting reconciliation between the two parties and in supporting “test tube politicians”. Prime Minister Gilani has sought proof of the charge before he could take action against these agencies. The factual position apart, the situation calls for the PML-N to be on the alert. To firm up its position in Punjab and elsewhere in the country, including the Centre, it should develop a deeper understanding with the Unification Block, inducting them in the provincial cabinet, if necessary. With the party position consolidated, the PML-N would be better able to meet challenges in the future. – Nation