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Zardari’s options narrow down


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President Asif Ali Zardari. — File photo
President Asif Ali Zardari. — File photo

by Shahzad Raza

The former ruling party has envisaged three probable scenarios in the wake of the May 11 elections. One of them suggests accepting Imran Khan as future prime minister, political sources told

They said President Asif Ali Zardari was open to forge a coalition with the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) in exchange of some solid guarantees. He is going to retire in September this year and would most probably seek re-election.

The second scenario is to let the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) form the government at the centre. In case of the PML-N grabbing 120 or so National Assembly seats, the former ruling party would not block its path to form the government. Several important local and international guarantors have been engaged in backchannel negotiations to ensure the smooth transition without letting President Zardari down as well.

The third probable scenario is that the former ruling coalition performs a miracle and gets closer to required 172 NA seats. If such a possibility arises at all, President Zardari would be utilising the negotiating skill of Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid’s president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He has already taken his former coalition partner into confidence on that count, the sources added.

The political advisors to President Zardari have gone through the rigorous task of critically calculating the constituency-wise party standing. The conservative estimates they made indicate the former ruling party would possibly grab around 50 to 60 NA seats.

The estimates show that the PML-Q, which managed to get 50 seats in the 2008 general elections, may end up winning 10 NA seats. The MQM tally of 23 seats may come down from 15 to 20. Despite that, it braved the terrorist attacks the popularity of the ANP has considerably declined. The political pundits estimate that the party led by Asfandyar Wali Khan may not be able to achieve more than 10 NA seats.

For one reason or another, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) has gained ground in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Analysts are generous enough to predict 15 seats for JUI-F.

In the 342-seat house, 172 MNAs are needed to form the federal government. Assuming the above-mentioned hypothesis becomes a reality, the former ruling alliance would still be short of getting the simple majority even with the support of JUI-F and independent candidates.

Senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi said the former ruling coalition would form the government in the centre, adding that all assertions of PML-N would vanish in thin air.

However, that depends on whether the coalition partners perform beyond their own expectations.

Sources said President Zardari is relying on Chaudhry Shujaat to cobble the post May 11 alliance. The Chaudhry brothers would try their best to keep PML-N away from the corridors of power and prefer Imran Khan as a lesser threat to their political fiefdom.

A senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader revealed that President Zardari had issued explicit instructions to his comrades not to target the PTI chairman during the election campaign. The strategy worked as Imran Khan aimed his entire munitions on Sharif brothers.

A source in the television industry said a big advertisement company devised and executed the media campaigns for both PPP and the PTI, adding that the similarities in the parties’ electronic and print ads were more than obvious.

The former ruling party is pinning high hopes on the PTI factor which, according to it, would dent the PML-N in urban Punjab. The most common and simplistic analysis is that the PTI would divide the rightwing and conservative vote, thus benefiting PPP candidates.

Analysts say that if PPP musters the support of the required 172 MNAs to form the government, a 1977-like situation may emerge. The opposition would never accept the results.

A few leaders whose loyalty with PPP is time-tested already suggested that the party must stay in opposition for the next five years. They contended that for one reason or another, the party faced serious disintegration and needed massive overhaul.

Sources said leaders including Raza Rabbani, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, Khurshid Shah, et cetera are advocating the idea of sitting in opposition and fixing the wrongs.

They have also reminded the party’s top decision maker to bear in mind two important transitions which are to take place later this year — the retirement of the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief Justice of Pakistan in November and December respectively.

— The writer is a freelance contributor. His twitter handle is @shahz79

Comments (34) Closed

Khan of Kalabagh May 12, 2013 02:46am

i really believe that the game is almost over for the President of Pakistan. he has run out of options, lets see how PML N deals with the President as he is ousted from the the Presidency... interesting times for the President.

asgher May 11, 2013 12:23pm
so you want to elect zardari once again ???
asgher May 11, 2013 12:27pm
best thing to do here is to support the right person rather correcting the grammer uncle...
Muaaz May 11, 2013 09:55am
Zardari will stay for 5 more years. He has a deal with PTI. Its obvious
Zafar May 10, 2013 02:24pm
Our president is the best among the present crop of politicians in forming alliances. Whatever the number of seats his party gets, he will succeed in joining hands with others and will form the government. Look at the last 5 years. He has forged alliances with PML-N, PML-Q, ANP, MQM, JUI-F, you name it. So the presidency will not witness a change, whatever happens in the elections.
Exasperated May 10, 2013 02:35pm
Yaar, the sentence construction in this articleis a bit painful to read. The writer or the editors of Dawn need to proofread the articles before publishing them. And what does this sentence mean: "The MQM tally of 23 seats may come down from 15 to 20. ". And the one after that?
G.Nabi May 10, 2013 03:33pm
PTI in coalition with Zardari's PPP? - amounts to betrayal of clean & honest government as IK has preached so far.
Aamir - Toronto May 10, 2013 04:10pm
In shah ALLAH, time will they say " Man proposes, God disposes" PTI Zinda Baad
Zafar May 10, 2013 04:42pm
so called change(Naya Pakistan) is quite evident having nexus within PTI and Zardari &co including of Chaudrys of Gujrat. shame to voice of Change by self claimed Captain. Zafar Faisalabad
Far May 10, 2013 05:48pm
hopefully zardari will be arrested for all his wrong doing and get punishment.
khurchiBoy May 12, 2013 12:42am
don't know about Zardari's options. But with NS in power, Altaf Hussain's future looks bleak and options narrowed. Karachi will see a new respect for law and order (aka op cleanup). Their terrorist controllers will have to be controlled by British govt., unless the British want to get blame for inciting and harbouring terrorist designs on innocent people of Karachi. The infamous case of Imran Farooq's murder may get new momentum. No more free release and paroles for Targetted Killers in Karachi. They wiped out the Police key personnel as well as most of leadership of MQM(H), in the past 4 years. If any decent citizen's group inspects the citizenship application of Altaf using Freedom-of-Information Act, they will find enough discrepancies. lies and ommissions to petition for voiding his citizen status. No surprise Mr. Altaf has started a trash war with NS already. -khurchi
Mustafa May 10, 2013 06:17pm
If proven guilty. We all like to kill the rule of law and then expect the rule of law to prevail. Not a good concept.
Arshad Patel,Ohio,USA May 10, 2013 06:23pm
PPP is still dreaming to come into power through the back door. Bilawal is not appearing in the public for he is scared of being attacked and even will not cast his vote due to the same reason. Mr. Zard Ari should realize the fact that days of PPP are over and he should better be ready for accountability. If PTI and PPP sign any agreement for the coalition to form a joint government then that will be last nail in the coffin ( Pakistan is almost dead as a nation, economically as well as socially ). WE ARE CALLED TERRORISTS AND A CORRUPT NATION THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. Although General Zia and General Musharuf have been blamed for everything that has gone BAD/WRONG in the past but PPP and PML-N have between themselves have ruled more than a 15 years without any progress, the darkest era of Pakistan under these so called peoples elected representatives. ACCOUNTABILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY. Change is the only solution. GOD BLESS PAKISTAN
A. Khan May 10, 2013 07:33pm
@zafar - you mean he is good at crookery and treachery in other words no principles at all but power at any cost. I wonder what his deceased wife would be thinking in heaven.
zia khan May 10, 2013 07:59pm
He should also be kicked out of his office like Musharraf before completion of his term in September and placed on ECL. National wealth devoured by this super crocodile must be recovered before letting him go.
muzammil ullah khan May 10, 2013 08:04pm
In my crystal ball I see a coalition of PML-N and PPP . Zardari will remain president and Nawaz will be the PM . PML-N will have ministers for foreign , interior , finance , Railways , Water and Power .and Sceience and Technology. Some minor ministries will be given to PPP and all will be happy . Cobbling a coalition of 2 partners is better then a coalition of 4 parties who will keep black mailing the PM. The rest of the parties will be in the opposition . The Govt will last for about 2 years and then there will be new elections which will be swept by PTI and then PTI will rule for 5 years .
ARK May 10, 2013 08:09pm
It is extremely sad to see that people of Pakistan do not care for Pakistan, its future, their future and their children's future. I am stunned to see support to PPP and PML-N who have pillaged and plundered the country, its resources and still garner support. The most corrupt person is the president yet people still see PPP as a genuine and legit party. For Nawaz, how can you have someone lead a nation that does not even know whether to allow a helpless, endangered white lion to be used as a mascot in 40-45 degree heat. Such is the mentality of these 2 parties and their leadership. They, their families and their cronies have amassed billions while the rest of the nation suffered. For Allah's sake, please vote sensibly so the dignity of Pakistan and Pakistanis is restored while bringing genuine and qualified people to lead the country and its institutions. Let us get rid of these family parties and feudal lords who are nothing but the enemies of the nation.
Dr. Sajaad Mir May 11, 2013 03:19pm
Imran has an advantage he has the Jewish backed media helping him. his children are officially Jewish. Noam Chomsky a Jew is a great friend of Pakistan. Do not ignore the Jews and Chinese are a single force now.
Far May 10, 2013 09:26pm
You know how easy it is to buy and break law back home bro!
Moazzam Husain May 10, 2013 10:51pm
Current sentiment against Zardari apart. History will regard him highly as the Pakistani leader who was finally able to correct the 2 critical faultlines of the Pakistani state: Civil-Military balance and a viable Centre-Provinces relationship. This has put Pakistan on the right track. Everything else will be relegated to a footnote.
shabut May 10, 2013 11:44pm
You are wrong again. This president is best at buying people through bribes and nothing else. You don't call this an alliance. It's a nexus of corrupt of the corrupt.
Rafiq Ahmed May 11, 2013 12:09am
I should say his options have narrowed down. He can either move to Dubai or one of the western countries as long as they promise not to deport him
Khan May 11, 2013 12:21am
I agree but give the guys a break..This is election times and every second one article is printed and passed on.every second news are breaking and analysis are let them go this time mate:)
Varinder Sidhu May 11, 2013 12:52am
Chances of winning election by Imran Khan Party are very high. May be clean sweep by Imran Khan. Zardari was good guy but his party will lose very badly. Nawaj Shrif party will be main opposition party. So future king of Pakistan is Imran Khan and he is not going to get along with Zardari, to such much extent that he will not even take Prime Minister Oath from Him. But he should take oath from him. Good luck Imran-Good Luck Pakistan.
Canuck May 11, 2013 01:27am
Zafar....did you know Pakistan is now considered a Failed State ! Guess who has been the president all this time?
Ali Khawaja (@alikhawaja_ksa) May 12, 2013 03:34am
there is another very likely scenario, which is, that zardari is rendered option less. PML-N and PTI form alliance to make the government, and give president post to Imran, while Nawaz becomes the PM.
Syed May 11, 2013 04:15am
I hope Imran should not damaged the trust given to him by the people of Pakistan and should not alliance with Zardari the most corrupt person on the surface of the earth. People want all the criminals to be brought to the courts, money looted by the ex parliamentarians be recovered and should be used to build new Pakistan. Imran Khan people have given you the responsibility to fix the nation not to bargain. Better to sit and have a strong opposition then making deals with the corrupt politicians. Imran Khan Zindabad,Pakistan Paindabad.
Mirza May 11, 2013 05:11am
Zardari has many flaws. But he seems to have the biggest heart of any politician in Pakistani. I have never liked him due to corruption. But he is a man who prefers to keep everyone happy and not carry vendetta or petty jealousy against others. He would make a good king but a bad administrator
Saeed May 11, 2013 11:55pm
Congrulation mr president . For bringing back democratic system . It is just beginning hope it last forever. And all those people hate democracy change there thinking.
rebbapragadar May 12, 2013 12:17am
Congratulations to Pakistan. Pakistanis have managed to allow a peaceful transition of power through elections. This is a giant leap for a country, whose people have been denied democracy by a series of dictators, who managed to hijack the will of the people. At least some of the credit should go to Generall Kayani, who has let this happen. Power has a corrupt influence and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Kayani could have easily stepped in if he wanted to, but he has allowed democracy to stabilise.
I.Hassan May 11, 2013 06:38am
If Imran Khan form an alliance with PPP while Zardari remain in politics. That means, Imran Khan did betrayed us all
A. Khan May 12, 2013 10:42am
Zardari should be consigned to dustbin of history. So far, it appears that PPP has been decimated outside of Sindh. That is a shocking result given the support it had at last election. Who do you blame for that ? Mr. Zardari of course. If other parties play their cards right, PPP could be marginalized for a long time to come. They squandered all the good will and sympathy vote which is a shame and a slap in the face of people who voted for them. I am not crying any tears for PPP. Good riddance and not a moment too soon but I would like to see what PML(N) will do and sincerely hope that its not a repeat of what PPP did over last 5 years.
G.Nabi May 12, 2013 01:26pm
Enough of exploiting 'ZABhutto & Benazir's name. End result is before our eyes. AAZ was a Zardari, not Bhutto.
Najam uddin May 12, 2013 01:54pm
Any party accepting Zardari as presidentfor next 5 years, will be the party of traitors.