KARACHI - The governments decision to postpone elections on two AJK Assembly seats in Karachi has set into motion a process of political alignments, a development nobody was expecting so soon. The Pakistan Peoples Party, it appears, has learnt no lessons from the past mistakes. Everybody knows that twice the PPP government was sent packing because of the situation in Karachi, the biggest city on which depends the economic stability of the country. And the history may repeat itself in case no remedial measures are taken to control the drift.
The latest PPP moves are raising political temperature in the metropolis. For example, the decision to change the system of local government and restore the commissioners, as expected, has not been received well by the MQM. This has been a point of difference between the two erstwhile partners for quite some time and the PPP had put the issue on backburner to keep the coalition intact. However, now that the MQM has joined hands with the PML-N, the PPP wasted no time in announcing what may rightly be called as a 'reserved judgment on the subject. Tensions are rising, but the PPP appears to be going ahead on its agenda, forgetting that without the MQM the government in Karachi could not function properly.
The MQM has enough strength in the Sindh Assembly to become a constant headache for the PPP-led setup. It has the numbers to requisition an assembly session as many times as it wants. Also, because of its numerical strength in the house, it is in a position to start the proceedings bang on time even if the PPP decides to stay away.
Observers say that by reviving the Commissionerate system, the PPP has buried what it calls the reconciliation policy, which helped it successfully navigate its political ship through troubled political waters for three and a half years. A more mature and well thought-out move would have been better to assuage the feelings of MQM, which felt immensely hurt due to the postponement of election on two AJK seats. The PPP grossly miscalculated the reaction of the MQM. Some people are of the opinion that the PPP is making yet another serious mistake by trying to corner the MQM. This policy may appear to be 'rewarding in the short- term, but in long-term it may lead to a situation that the PPP will have to pay a very heavy political price in Islamabad - and maybe in Sindh as well.
The PPPs strategy on relying totally on the ANP to 'twist the arm of the MQM may be a dangerous approach. It will encourage ethnicity, intolerance and degenerate the law and order to a point where the PPP would be left with none else to blame but itself.
The PPP, critics say, seems to be living in an imaginary world when it believes that it can politically isolate MQM forgetting that their biggest political opponents PML (N) and JUI (F) could easily create a situation which will be difficult for the ruling party to handle.
Institutions like Supreme Court and the establishment are watching the entire situation quite minutely. In case it deteriorates beyond certain point, the very future of the government may be at stake, with the leadership standing in the dock to answer millions of questions.
The PPP has enough numbers, at least in Sindh, and can function without the support of any other party. But, surprisingly, after the departure of the MQM the party is behaving like a drowning man desperately trying to save himself. Their move to 'lionise elements in Lyari to create trouble has been interpreted as a poor strategy which will not only bring more turmoil to the poor neighbourhoods but also the businesses that in the neighbourhood.
There are people whose specific duty is to collect information and send it to their bosses. If the information proves that PPP was patronizing people to destabilise an area, the party may land in trouble. Political observers feel that the PPP has the habit of playing 'Sindh card whenever it feels the heat in Islamabad. But now when the government is facing a difficult situation in Sindh it is using the 'stick which has brought the PML (N) and the MQM closer. The signs ahead are not very encouraging for the PPP.