ISLAMABAD - The Monday meeting between the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) central leaders with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to sort out contentious issues between the two parties had just put the things on hold and final decision in this connection would likely to be made in a meeting of Chaudhry brothers with President Asif Ali Zardari on his return from United Kingdom.
Sources in PPP claimed that both the sides had very productive discussion on host of issues including seat-to-seat adjustment between the two sides with special focus on Punjab, caretaker set-up and the overall role of PML-Q in the upcoming general elections, which both the parties intend to contest together. According to the sources, the meeting of Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, Ch. Moonis Elahi and Kamil Ali Aga with the Prime Minister was arranged on the directives of President Zardari to complete the spade work, so that on his return from United Kingdom a final summit meeting between the two sides would be held to give final shape to all these issues.
On the other hand, the sources in PML-Q said that they had brought to the notice of the Prime Minister the violation on part of the PPP leaders in Punjab on the seat-to-seat adjustment formula inked between the two sides at the time of Q-League’s boarding the ruling coalition’s bandwagon.
The sources further said that the issue of PPP Punjab President Manzoor Wattoo also figured in the meeting and once again the PML-Q leadership had expressed serious reservations over the way Wattoo was attempting to lure Q League MPs to join PPP. The Prime Minister assured the Chudhrys from Gujrat that all their genuine concerns including those relating to Wattoo would be addressed properly. The sources further said that regarding the caretaker set-up both the sides agreed that the matter should be taken up in the meeting of coalition parties in near future.
The sources in PML-Q informed that the party leadership was perturbed over the sidetracking of PPP leaders from the broader understanding with them, particularly in central and southern Punjab, considered to be the stronghold of Q-League as majority of their representation in the incumbent Parliament is from these areas.
It is to be mentioned here that Chaudhry brothers are receiving complaints from their leaders and activists from these areas that instead of playing as partners the PPP local leaders are luring their activists and supporters in their party as well as they had launched election campaign from the constituencies coming in their share as per the seat-to-seat adjustment formula. The sources confirmed to TheNation that at the time of entrance into the electoral alliance with ruling PPP Chaudhry brothers had secured assurance in black and white from President Zardari that on all the seats currently being held by the Q-League MPs PPP would not field its candidates in the upcoming general elections while the seats from where the Q-League candidates were runners up in the last general elections would also be doled out to them. But later the PPP backed out from its commitment and it was decided that in the current political situation both the parties would redefine the seat adjustment formula keeping in view the ground realities.
PML-Q swallowed this bitter pill keeping in view the large defections of its MPs as well as breaking away of PML-Likeminded group had greatly compromised its position.
But on the other hand the PPP leadership was also caught in the Catch 22 position because in most of the areas where the party would be entering into seat-adjustment with PML-Q, party would finding it difficult to keep the local party leaders intact as in rural areas the influential families have little ideological affiliation with the parties and their allegiance with parties mainly depend on party tickets for national or provincial assembly seats.
So, it would not be an easy task for both the parties as electoral alliance and seat-to-seat adjustment between the two sides could trigger mass-scale defections at the time of awarding party tickets as those failing to get the party ticket could turn to some other potential political party to secure the ticket.
So to keep its MPs and potential party leaders intact Q-League wanted solid commitment for security party ticket for all their sitting MPs as joint candidates in the upcoming elections, particularly in Punjab and obviously President Asif Ali Zardari could give such a firm commitment.
But how he would keep his own party leaders intact from the constituencies where Q-League would be obliged is a big challenge for PPP and its leadership.