PPP offer puts PML-Q in a double bind

Published Apr 24, 2011 01:30am

Chaudhry Pervez Elahi talks to Federal Minister for Interior Senator A Rehman Malik while leader Pakistan Muslim League (Q) Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain looks on during Walima ceremony of Salik Hussain, the son of Shujaat Hussain on Saturday. – Online Photo

LAHORE: Facing a choice of either joining the federal government or see some 25 MNAs deserting the party, the PML-Q has, in principle, decided to join the federal government in the first stage, and later the cabinet. According to party insiders, the PPP has been approaching the Chaudhrys through former law minister Babar Awan, who dropped in at their place here on Saturday again, with a big carrot and even bigger stick.

“Mr Awan has quietly conveyed to the Chaudhrys that either they join the government or the PPP will be forced to take alternative route to keep its numbers game intact,” says an insider.

He has also softly told the Q-League that the budget session is a “do or die battle for the federal government and it is entitled to explore all options before going down and that splitting the PML-Q is one of them”.

Already shrunk because of desertions on many fronts, the PML-Q has no option but to go along with the PPP, he said. The PML-Q has now realised that the PPP has been following a double-pronged approach over the past few weeks. On the one hand, it approached the Chaudhrys with “dream offers” — deputy prime ministership for Pervaiz Elahi, eight federal ministries and the chief minister’s slot for his son Moonis Elahi in case the PML-Q manages to win over enough MPAs to form government in Punjab.

“The Chaudhrys could not have dreamt for more and agreed to join the government.”

Once an impression of the Chaudhrys joining the federal government was created, the PPP kicked off a parallel process of approaching individuals, and hitherto loyal, party MNAs. It has, as per its own claim, lured 25 away from the Q-League. Once it hit the target number, it quietly conveyed to the Chaudhrys their shrinking political options — “either join the PPP government or see themselves reduced to a smaller group”. Lose-lose situation

That is precisely where the Chaudhrys are stuck; they know they are doomed if they do and they know they are doomed if they don’t. “The Chaudhrys have conveyed the situation to their inner circle in the party, and are using it as a justification to join the federal government and cabinet,” one of the party leaders, who is privy to the goings-on behind the scenes, told Dawn.

The Chaudhrys now know once the desertions are made public, their party would further lose its political weight.

“They have also stopped talking about deputy PM or CM slots after realising their numerical weakness. Now they are trying to lend a moral dimension to the entire episode — talking about national agenda, inflation, terrorism and every good thing under the sun.”

The PPP, on its part, has not gone public with the list of MNAs it has already lured to avoid public, media and political pressure,” the insider said.

About the timeline of the PML-Q joining the federal government, he said: “Things will work out much before the budget — the most crucial concern of the PPP government. It has allowed the PML-Q some time, but asked it to decide before the end of next month so that the budget session remains smooth for the government.”


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