LAHORE – Most of the political parties appear to be changing their plans and strategies after the disqualification of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister. The shift in their positions is very clear.
When Mr Gilani was under court pressure to send a letter to the Swiss authorities to have cases against President Zardari reopened, he refused, saying that even his successor, who will be ‘my nominee’ will not do so.
But only 24 hours after his ouster, the PPP’s central executive committee and parliamentary party have given all powers to President Zardari to nominate the new candidate for the office of the chief executive. Mr Gilani will have no role in choosing the new ‘scapegoat’, whose main duty in office will be to resist all efforts to claw the PPP co-chairman’s money back from the Swiss banks.
The PML-N has been demanding fresh elections, but on Wednesday it nominated former KP chief minister Mehtab Abbasi for the post of prime minister and started contacts with other parties, including those which are allies of the ruling PPP, to seek their support for him. These efforts show that the PML-N hopes it will be able to get their backing for its candidate.
The JUI-F, which remained part of the PPP-led coalition for about three years before parting ways as a mark of protest against the removal of its then minister Azam Swati along with Hamid Saeed Kazmi in Haj scam, is being approached afresh both by the PPP and the PML-N for future cooperation. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has been working with the PPP governments even in the past but has never joined hands with the PML-N, will soon decide which side he is on.
The MQM, which is an ally of the PPP, is also being approached by the PML-N, which had taken a policy decision a few years ago never to join hands with this party because of its past conduct. Despite that principled decision, this party had tried to take the MQM along several months ago, but failed.
The candidates for the office of the prime minister are to file nomination papers today – and election is scheduled for tomorrow. By then it will become clear which party stands where.
But let’s try to analyse which party should adopt what course of action in the supreme national interest.
The parties which have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision about the disqualification of Mr Gilani have, impliedly, supported the apex court’s order that a letter should be written to the Swiss authorities. There shouldn’t be any other interpretation of their statements.
This being so, they are left with no justification to continue to stand by the PPP in the coalition. And if they are still on the PPP’s side, then their statement in support of the SC order will sound hypocritical.
The PML-N is a party which is committed to bringing back President Zardari’s money from the Swiss banks. Therefore, all other parties having representation in the National Assembly should support the PML-N’s candidate. In fact, if all non-PPP parties join hands, a new setup can be brought into being. If the top PML-N and the PML-Q leaders don’t make mutual cooperation an ego problem and shun petty differences for the greater good of the country, a change is round the corner.
And once a PML-N man, or a non-PML-N man is elected as prime minister with the supporter of other parties, it will be nothing short of a ‘soft revolution’.
Just imagine for a while the situation when President Zardari is in the presidency and a PML-N man is the prime minister. The president will be reduced to a figurehead, not allowed to use the Presidency for political activities of his party. (The Lahore High Court had stopped him from doing this, but he held a party meeting at the Presidency even yesterday).
Working with a premier from a rival party will also make clear the real worth of a head of state under the 18th Amendment.
The major benefit of the PML-N prime minister in the prevailing situation will be that he will write a letter to the Swiss authorities without wasting a single minute.
Then the new head of government can also dissolve the National Assembly, or render a binding advice to the president to do so. This will pave the way for fresh elections, giving the PPP full opportunity to return to power on account of what they claim to be their ‘unmatched performance’.
A prime minister from some opposition party can save the country from the crises that will become unavoidable in case some PPP man is in power.
It is no secret that a PPP prime minister will be required to defy the SC order about the Swiss letter. In case he goes by the party policy he will be disqualified by the apex court. And in case he thinks of complying with the court instructions, he will be voted out by the party.
Whether the parties take care of their personal interests or that of the country will become clear during the next few days.