PPP seeks opposition help

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. File Photo  

Short of numbers after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) decided to withdraw support to his government, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday met leaders of the two largest opposition parties in the National Assembly to keep the Pakistan People's Party-led dispensation afloat.

More than getting the numbers, the government, for now, appears to be trying to prevent a no-confidence motion being moved in the National Assembly, which is in session now. The salvage operations were led by Mr. Gilani himself. He first met Punjab Chief Minister and senior Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Shahbaz Sharif and then PML (Quaid) chief Shujaat Hussain.

From the leaderships of these two PML incarnates, Mr. Gilani secured broad assurances that they would not do anything to derail the democratic set-up. But just ahead of his meeting with the Prime Minister, Chaudhry Shujaat had a joint press conference with PPP's erstwhile ally, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F), leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

Similarly, while Mr. Shahbaz Sharif is said to have gone along with the PML(N)'s stated position of not wanting to destabilise the federal government, other leaders in Islamabad, including Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Nisar Ali Khan, maintained that his party would neither topple nor help the government. The party's senior leadership is scheduled to meet under the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday.

With the MQM withdrawing support and the JUI (F) walking away earlier in December, the PPP-led alliance is short of 12 members in the 342-strong National Assembly. The PML(N) is the second largest party in the National Assembly with 91 members followed by the PML(Q)'s 50. The MQM has 25.

While all sorts of permutations and combinations were being bandied about as political parties weighed their options and positioned themselves for better bargaining in the fluid situation, the opposition ranks were hemmed in by traditional faultlines. The PML(N) and PML(Q) factions do not see eye-to-eye. The MQM and the PML(N) were at each other's throats last week.

Meanwhile, amid demands from JUI (F) for Mr. Gilani's resignation and media speculation about his isolation, the PPP led by President Asif Ali Zardari maintained that the party was with the Prime Minister and would stand by him.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 10:52:05 AM |

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