Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
While the Sharifs of the PML-N eye the support of a majority of the 84 PML-Q provincial legislators, the Chaudhrys of the PML-Q want to prove at an Iftar dinner today (Wednesday) that at least 70 are still loyal to them.
The two parties realise they cannot co-exist in their struggle for power and either of the two will have to perish.
The PML-N has been trying to break away legislators and notable leaders of the PML-Q since their chief Nawaz Sharif’s return from exile. After forming a government in Punjab and being a coalition partner in Islamabad, they had been able to win the support of a number of PML-Q legislators. But its decision to quit the government in the Centre has increased the chances of these Q-Leaguers supporting the PPP in the Centre and in Punjab.
The Chaudhrys meanwhile will make a significant achievement if they are able to gather 70 legislators at their residence today. For the first time in seven months, PML-Q Punjab President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi are personally approaching party members.
The PML-Q has already claimed it has won back the support of 15 of the members of its forward bloc in the Punjab Assembly.
The party’s initial objective is to stop the PML-N from getting support of a majority of their party’s legislators, but it eventually looks at depriving the PML-N of a simple majority in Punjab.
The PML-N needs to break away at least 43 of the 84 PML-Q provincial legislators to protect them from the defection clause. The law defines party decision as that made by a majority of its parliamentarians. Its second goal is to keep its Punjab government intact even if the PPP quits the coalition. The PML-N is currently 10 members short of a simple majority in the Punjab Assembly even if it gets support from the two Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and three PML-Functional members.
The N-League had proven during the presidential election the support of 208 MPAs in the provincial assembly, but the PML-Q claims it has won 15 of them back. 11 PML-N legislators: The PML-Q leadership also claims it is in touch with 11 PML-N legislators in Punjab who would leave their party ‘at an appropriate time’.
The Q-League has little to offer to members, however, because it is in the opposition. The PML-N on the other hand is using government resources to attract PML-Q legislators.
The Sharifs had not interacted with the members of the PML-Q forward bloc earlier, in order to avoid allegations of horse-trading. But now, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is bargaining directly with the defectors.
According to sources, Punjab government has put all its resources at the disposal of the PML-Q defectors. They are being offered huge funds for development and transfer of revenue and police officials on their recommendations.
A senior PML-Q leader admitted that his party legislators would naturally feel more comfortable with the PML-N than the PPP’s But as a party, the PML-Q will not merge into the PML-N unless the Sharif brothers dismount the high horse and change their attitudes.
He was of the view that the PML-Q had realized that now Nawaz Sharif did not enjoy the same powerful position that he had before breaking his alliance with the PPP.
His position has remarkably weakened after the election of Asif Ali Zardari as the president of Pakistan, he added.
The PML-Q leader claimed that Zardari had cornered Nawaz Sharif and at the same time clinched all the top official slots one by one. Now, he said, the PML-N has not much space to manoeuvre as Zardari has accepted none of its demands, including the one relating to the restoration of the deposed judges. At the same time, he said, Zardari was vested with all the powers that Musharraf used to have.
With the hard stand taken by Nawaz Sharif vis-†-vis the Chaudhrys, he said, several PML-Q lawmakers have got a viable alternative in the shape of the PPP, which is offering them a lot for joining the government and which is in a position to give something to them in the Punjab provided it succeeds in forming the government in the province.
The PML-Q leader said the biggest success the Chaudhrys had so far scored was that they had been able to keep a significant number of federal and Punjab lawmakers with them despite the fact that they had faced huge embarrassment of massive defections in parliament and the Punjab Assembly.
He admitted that most of the PML-Q floor crossers in parliament during the presidential election supported Zardari for different considerations. This lot is not reliable for any political party, he regretted
The meeting, followed by an Iftar dinner, held at the Gulberg residence of Chaudhrys of Gujrat was organized as a show of strength on the part of PML-Q which was continuously depleting after February 18 elections.
The motive behind the show was not only demonstrating the present strength of PML-Q but also to highlight that a large number of its members who earlier supported PML-N are back in its fold.
The main strategy of the Chaudhrys before the meeting was to put up a show that included a minimum of a 50-plus members. The initial target was to win back at least 15 members from PML-N and add to it in its tally of 36.
The result of presidential election showed that PML-Q, out of its original strength of 84 was just left with 36 members while remaining have either gone to PML-N, swelling its strength to 201 from 171 or PPP which won 123 seats.
An insider, giving details of the meeting called by Ch Pervaiz Elahi, claimed that 62 members were present which shows an addition of 26 more members to its last tally of 36. Another participant close to Chaudhrys claimed that 15 of those who earlier supported PML-N were also present in the meeting.
The meeting was also attended by several members of Forward Bloc, which supported PPP’s presidential candidate.
A PML-Q Parliamentary leader said that now the PML-N should delete those members who attended the meeting from its list. He claimed that tally could have been even bigger had some members not gone abroad or fell ill, were present on this occasion.
The independent political circles were of the view that if 62 members participated in the meeting including those who before supported PML-N then it was a big victory for the PML-Q against its rival league.
Senior PPP and PML-Q leaders made hectic efforts to organize the meeting as a show of strength. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer held a series of meetings with the Chaudhrys and facilitated them. On the part of Chaudhrys, Moonis Elahi figured very prominently in holding this meeting. The PML-Q’s decision to put up show of strength on the part of PML-Q was a part of strategy finalized in the meeting between Punjab Governor and Chaudhrys soon after the Presidential elections.
Monday, September 15, 2008
LAHORE: The Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Q have teamed up to pull down the Punjab government. Sources told this news agency Sunday that PPP had assigned the command of "Punjab operation" to Governor Salman Taseer while PML-Q had tasked Punjab Assembly member Chaudhry Moonis Elahi with the job. Qasim Zia and Raja Riaz have been asked to assist the governor.
PML-Q has been given the duty of bringing back into the party fold the PML-Q forward bloc members supporting PML-N. PML-Q is also considering filing a disqualification reference against the members who refuse to return. A joint PPP and PML-Q team will target Punjab Chief Secretary Javed Mehmood and launch media trial of the PML-N central leadership. The governor has finalized the consultation process and is seeking help from intelligence agencies and some of his old friends. PML-Q, under this strategy, can file a disqualification reference against Atta Muhammad Manika and some other forward bloc members within 48 hours, sources added. Moonis Elahi has geared up his efforts to woo the disgruntled members. He had also claimed that not only these members would return to the party fold but some men of conscience from PML-N would also be drawn.
Khwaja Ahmad Ehsan, adviser to Shahbaz Sharif, told this news agency that PML-N political rivals could not compete in the numbers game, adding that "five members of the forward bloc have consulted him. He said conspiracies were being hatched against them and rumors spread as part of a campaign.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
By Tariq Butt - The News 13th September, 2008
ISLAMABAD: The PML-N is feverishly engaged in mustering support of at least 51 per cent MPAs of the PML-Q in the Punjab with the objective of changing their parliamentary leader to avoid the defection clause if the PML-Q members join the Punjab government.
Meanwhile, the PPP is largely banking on Hamid Nasir Chattha to secure votes of whatever number of MPAs, still left with the PML-Q, and may offer the office of the chief minister to him as a last resort to get the Punjab government.
Another major development, according to the source, is that the PML-Q in consultation with the PPP will approach the Lahore High Court (LHC) to stop the PML-Q forward bloc from voting for Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif after Governor Salmaan Taseer will ask him to seek a fresh vote of confidence after the PPP ministers quit the Punjab cabinet.
For over a decade-and-a-half, Chattha has had excellent relations with Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari despite being in the PML-Q. He continues to be in the good books of the PPP, which has increased its interaction with him amid the fast developing situation in the Punjab.
The PML-N got 23 extra votes from the Punjab Assembly in the Sept 6 presidential election, which were of the PML-Q MPAs. But if the claim of a senior PML-N leader, made to this correspondent, is accepted as true, his party bagged a total of 30 PML-Q votes, including all the seven ballots, which were declared invalid.
He said the PML-N in fact needs the backing of less than a dozen PML-Q MPAs to have 51 per cent of the entire provincial parliamentary party with it and to be in a position to change their parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly. The PML-Q has a total of 84 MPAs.
Three days ago, 36 PML-Q MPAs attended an Iftar dinner hosted by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. One of them, however, later again slipped to the side of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.
The PPP secured 16 extra votes, all from the PML-Q, in the presidential election. It has 107 MPAs while it had bagged 123 votes. These 16 MPAs, and the 30 members, who voted for the PML-N, form more than 51 per cent of the PML-Q parliamentary party in the provincial assembly. But they did not make one group for being in different groups, not speaking with one voice.
The source said the PML-Q still has the support of thirty-plus MPAs, who are an equal major attraction for both the PML-N and the PPP. The PPP's utmost effort is to rope in all these members with Chattha leading them with the promise that he would be made the provincial chief executive.
According to the source, the Chaudhrys may put forward the name of Moonis Elahi (son of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi) as the next chief minister side by side Chattha if the PPP insisted on seeking the PML-Q support in order to oust Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The PML-N has 178 MPAs while it requires a minimum number of 186 members of the Punjab Assembly to sustain its government. Already, it is in power on the force of the support of the PML-Q defectors.
The governor has repeatedly declared that the moment the PPP ministers leave the provincial cabinet, the Shahbaz Sharif government would be in minority and he would have to ask the chief minister to get a fresh vote of confidence that Shahbaz would not be able to secure for having no majority in the Punjab Assembly.
In his opinion, the PML-Q forward bloc would not be able to openly vote for Shahbaz Sharif because its members would be hit by the floor-crossing law and would thus be liable to disqualification.
A constitutional expert said the situation in the Punjab would become complex and complicated if the high court was involved. There was a secret ballot in the presidential election in which it was difficult to figure out the defectors, but it would be too easy in the election or vote on a trust resolution for or against the chief minister because it would take place through a show of hands.
"I have no doubt that all our turncoats will come back to us running with great speed once they see that it is going to have a dominant say in the post-Shahbaz Sharif scenario," a top PML-Q leader told The News.
"Neither the PML-N can remain in the government nor can the PPP get power in the Punjab without the PML-Q's backing," he said. A PML-Q leader said its MPAs would have to collectively realise their importance under the prevailing situation in the Punjab. He said if they stood together, their party would be able to get the office of the chief minister. And if they did not support either of the two main parties, the provincial assembly would have to be dissolved because none of them would be in a position to form the government.
LAHORE - The Chaudhrys plan to put up a show of their parliamentary strength in days to come in a bid to demonstrate that the most of PML-Q members, engaged in hobnobbing with PML-N are back in its fold.
The minimum target of any such a show will be the participation of 50-plus members of Punjab Assembly. The result of presidential election showed that PML-Q is left with only 36 members in Punjab, while remaining have either gone to PPP or PML-N folds. The efforts are geared up for showing its parliamentary strength that included its present 36 members and at least 15 of those who recently have assured their support to PML-N and voted for its presidential candidate.
The PML-N has a thin 15 members majority in the Punjab as was evident from presidential election. The PML-N needs 186 members to sustain the Punjab government while it has at the moment the backing of 201 which shows the difference of 15 members mostly from PML-Q forward bloc blowing hot and cold these days. The first priority of the Chaudhrys will be to win back these 15 members.
Meanwhile, both Opposition Leader Ch Pervaiz Elahi and President PML-Q Shujaat Hussain are back in action. They have started contacting the estranged PML-Q members included in the forward bloc, which will be instrumental in any political change in the Punjab. Some members of the forward bloc also met Chaudhrys at their residence. A female MPA Zobia Rabab who was present in the Iftar dinner hosted by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif the other day met both the Chaudhrys to contradict the reports of her joining PML-N. In the meeting, she promised to stand by the PML-Q whenever the need be.
Some members of forward block who joined PPP have also contacted the Chaudhrys. The PPP leaders assured the PML-Q leaders that from now onwards, they will not make any further dent in the parliamentary strength of PML-Q.
It is learnt that Moonis Elahi so far figured quite prominently in all the contacts made between the Chaudhrys and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. He is likely to get an important assignment in the eventuality of a change in the present set-up.
He was also present in the meeting between Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi with Salman Taseer the other day. In this meeting, it is learnt, the PML-Q has once again been offered to join the coalition government both in the Centre and Punjab.
The sources concerned say that the PPP had earlier offered the PML-Q five ministries in Punjab and a portfolio of senior minister in a deal in which the PML-Q was to withdraw Mushahid from the presidential race.
Sources privy to the latest contacts between the two parties maintain that both PPP and PML-Q have reached an understanding to join hands with each other. The leaders from both sides are considering different strategies with regard to the Punjab politics.
Advisor to Prime Minister Manzoor Watto also held meetings with Punjab Governor, PPP leaders and members of forward block from PML-Q.
Lahore: Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has made a formal offer to PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for mutual cooperation between the two parties at the Centre and in the Punjab, The News has learnt.
In a surprise visit to the Chaudhrys' residence here on Wednesday, Taseer asked Ch Shujaat Hussain to meet President Zardari for evolving a joint future political strategy beneficial to both the parties. The governor spelt out the president's plan on the same count.
Former Punjab CM Ch Pervaiz Elahi, Moonis Elahi and Governor's Media Adviser Farrukh Shah were also present in the meeting which lasted about an hour. Sources revealed the governor dilated upon the working relationship that can be developed between the two parties in the Punjab and at the Centre. With regard to the Punjab, the governor hinted at a change, which would also help the PML-Q regroup again.
It is learnt no power-sharing formula was discussed. However, the governor dropped the hint that the PML-Q's initiative in this regard could open up multiple opportunities for both parties at the Centre and in the provinces.
The governor told the Chaudhrys that the PPP intended to stop the PML-Q's disintegration in the Punjab and at the Centre if the two parties arrive at some sort of understanding. Though the governor unfolded mutual gains like a possible change in the Punjab and power-sharing at the Centre, he kept stressing the PML-Q's erosion.
Taseer believed the PML-Q first needed to gather itself, and that would be a great benefit for the party if both moved ahead together. The governor also expected the PML-Q to play its role in strengthening democracy in the country. He said the PML-Q could also play a positive role in pending legislation at the Centre in the form of the proposed constitutional package. The PML-Q, which seems a docile party as far as the numbers game is concerned, has a good number of senators, who can make all the difference in constitutional amendments.
After the meeting, the Chaudhry family discussed in detail the pros and cons of the offer. The family, so far, has remained uncertain about joining hands with the PPP for several reasons, including the family feud with the Bhuttos.
A majority of PML-Q's leaders had been wary of such an arrangement too. However, in recent days, there has been a deep concern with regard to party erosion, particularly after the presidential elections. It is learnt Ch Shujaat Hussain is giving a serious thought to the offer.
Sources said Ch Shujaat Hussain seemed willing to grab the opportunity against the backdrop of the fact the party's political future was at stake. The PML-Q leadership was briefed on the governor's meeting later in the day. However, no final decision was reached so far as the party president wished to discuss the matter at the appropriate party platform.
LAHORE: President-elect Asif Zardari has reached out of PML-Q President Shujaat Hussain and former Punjab chief minister Pervez Elahi for ‘evolving’ collective strategy on the future of Punjab, The News has learnt.
The newly elected president called on the Chaudhrys Sunday at their Lahore residence, inviting them to the presidential oath-taking ceremony today (Tuesday) at Islamabad.
The presidents elect expressed desire for cooperation between the two parties for furthering mutual political interests.
During conversation, Asif Zardari hinted at seeking PML-Q’s support in Punjab as the coalition in the province was sailing through rough waters.
The recent exchange of fire between the governor and the PML-N ministers in Punjab is led to a void between the Pakistan Peoples Party and the PML-N. Sources said it was, perhaps, this reason the new president is urgently looking for new partners. However, sources in the PML-Q revealed the Chaudhrys were not quite enthusiastic about the proposals tossed by the presidency in view of anger against the PPP within the family. It was also learnt the Chaudhrys might not attend the function because of their political engagements. The idea of joining hands with the PPP is not welcome in the family, keeping aside political dividends that might comes art of any understanding.
On the other hand, the PML-N is yet to take advantage of the situation. None of the Sharifs has taken the initiative for making up political differences with the PML-Q leadership in a changed political dynamics. Despite the fact that the PPP is gradually becoming more aggressive towards the PML-N, the PML-N leadership is not responding.
Sources in the party say the PML-Q has assumed an important role in Punjab. The voting pattern the recent presidential elections has comforted the party leadership a bit with 36 members voting for the party candidate, Syed Mushahid Hussain.. though the PML-Q’s original strength in the
At the moment, the PML-Q believes the party has a major chunk in its lap with the rest of group, 48, divided between the PML-N and PPPP. The leadership thinks neither of the two opponent parties will be in a position to survive without the PML-Q’s support if the coalition breaks. More interesting is the fact the PML-Q splinters are divided as such that no single group can stake a claim on the party parliamentary leader’s office. In case the dissidents were together, they could have claimed that office from the original PML-Q. Till that, office remains with the PML-Q, the rest of the party members cannot vote against the set party line in the event of no confidence move against the incumbent CM.