Saturday, September 13, 2008

Moonis Elahi Blog News: Asif Ali Zardari Seeks PML-Q Support on Punjab

By Mayed Ali - The News (09-09-08)

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 Punjab stood at 84, the party leaders were wary of the actual numbers. It was expected the party had around 21 members intact. Sources revealed the last ditch effort by Moonis Elahi fetched the party another 15 members, majority of women MPAs, in the run-up to pools.

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.