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No end to trying times for PPP

June 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD, June 21: “It’s beginning of the end,” remarked an outgoing federal minister belonging to the PPP, when asked if President Asif Ali Zardari was serious enough to form a government that could last until next March when the incumbent National Assembly would complete its five-year constitutional term.

Referring to the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrant for Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the PPP’s nominee for the premiership, the lawmaker requesting anonymity said: “One only needs to use common sense to foresee predicaments which the future PPP government is set to face.”

Mr Shahabuddin, a senior PPP leader from south Punjab, was yet to celebrate his nomination for the highest office on Thursday when he was told that a non-bailable arrest warrant had been issued against him by a Rawalpindi court at the request of the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) for his alleged involvement in the multi-billion-rupee ephedrine scandal.

The former minister said that in the coming days the PPP leadership would be virtually embroiled in many old and new cases in courts. He said he feared the memo commission might be used again to target President Zardari. He said it was written on the wall that as soon as the new prime minister was administered oath, the Supreme Court would definitely ask him about the status of its NRO judgment according to which the sitting prime minister is supposed to write a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Zardari.

Another PPP lawmaker also agreed that tension between the executive and the judiciary would further escalate in the coming days and the party was bracing for a tough fight. “We will effectively project the party’s point of view both inside and outside the parliament and let people know how the PPP has been hoodwinked,” the MNA said.

During an informal chat when a senior PML-Q leader was asked to explain his party’s position in the new set-up, he said that only the Chaudhrys of Gujrat were negotiating with President Zardari and they were not sharing much with the rest of the party lawmakers. “We are only told that the PML-Q will get its due share in the next government.”

H said the party was being run on a day to day basis, knowing the fact that only a handful of its lawmakers were actually under the control of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. As a result, he added, the PML-Q leaders would only bargain on the number of ministries.

Throughout Thursday the federal capital was abuzz with rumours and saw a lot of political activities. Heads of coalition parties repeatedly met each others to fine-tune contours of the future government.

The opposition PML-N, which has filed its own candidate for the office of leader of the house, also approached other parties with its three-point agenda -- implementation of the SC orders, ending of loadshedding and setting up of an impartial caretaker government for early general election.

However, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was the most active among all who personally approached all political parties, apparently for a broad-based government aimed at smooth transition towards the next general election. At a TV programme, he warned that if the political leadership did not understand the gravity of the crisis the country was facing at the moment, some ‘military men’ would take advantage of the situation and things would go out of their hand.