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Zardari calls Raja Riaz, urges positive role in Punjab

February 26, 2011

Co-Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party Asif Ali Zardari. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Co-Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari in a telephone call on Saturday directed PPP leader Raja Riaz to play a positive role in the Punjab province so that democracy was not derailed, DawnNews reported.

The phone call came as Pakistan’s most famous political marriage of convenience ended in a divorce on Friday as Nawaz Sharif signalled the ouster of the PPP from the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz’s Punjab government and both sides contradicted each other over the implementation of a 10-point agenda, raising fears of future tensions.

Mr Sharif announced “parting of ways” with the PPP at a news conference in Islamabad because of what he called unsatisfactory performance of the PPP-led federal coalition government in implementing his party’s economic-cum-political agenda during a 45-day deadline that ended on Wednesday.

As a consequence, he said, the PML-N’s Punjab chief minister and his younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, would dissolve his cabinet, which includes several PPP ministers, and form a new one, possibly with the breakaway “unification bloc” of the opposition PML-Q, which will give him the majority in the 371-seat provincial assembly. This, he said, would happen within two days, possibly on Saturday.

Riaz has however stated that the PML-N leadership “could not accuse PPP ministers in Punjab of any wrongdoing”.

Moreover, Riaz said he had returned the bullet-proof vehicle given to him by the Punjab government and had also directed PPP ministers in Punjab to return all government vehicles.

Riaz further stated that PPP ministers would not go to their offices from Saturday.