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PPP likely to be a big loser: analysts

April 18, 2007

ISLAMABAD April 17: The Pakistan People’s Party would be a big loser in the event of a deal with the government, according to political analysts based in the capital.

Conversations with sources close to the leadership in different parties revealed that a good number of PPP hawks were seeking membership of other parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, after resigning themselves to an arrangement between their party and the government.

The reports of a PPP-government reconciliation have, paradoxically enough, brought joy to other opposition parties as they feel that the last impediment to an anti-Musharraf alliance — People’s Party chief Benazir Bhutto — will now be out of the way.

This was how a leader of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal saw the shape of things to come: “It will enable anti-Musharraf forces to gather on one platform, ensuring a head-on collision between the pro-US ‘enlightened moderates’ on one side, and ‘pro-Islam’ forces on the other.”

The Musharraf-Benazir deal will definitely be a setback for those elements which had set their sights on the forthcoming elections as a vehicle of change.

For hangers-on of the Musharraf government, for instance the PML-Q, the patch-up would be like a bolt from the blue. However, several observers warned of an upheaval if the new arrangement fails to come up to the expectations of the nation.

Although the reports of a ‘deal’ have saddened diehard anti-Musharraf activists, the shock value has long gone. The writing was on the wall as the PPP started making efforts to distance itself from the mainstream opposition.

The most unmistakable sign came last month with the launch of the lawyers’ movement after the presidential action against the chief justice. The People’s Party saw to it that its workers did not rub shoulders with other parties during the protests against the president’s move.

On both occasions, the apparent objective of the PPP was to make it clear to other parties, especially the PML-N, that it had already made a decision to work with President Gen Pervez Musharraf.

A government official privy to the negotiations between the two sides disputed the use of the word ‘deal’, saying that only contacts had been established. “These contacts are meant to take the country forward. President Musharraf does not want to conceal anything from the people.”

He welcomed PPP chief Benazir Bhutto’s willingness to work with President Musharraf. “She has recognised the viewpoint of saner elements and acknowledged the mood and wishes of the people of Pakistan after seven years. Better late than never.”