Awan, Pervaiz meet again in NA to discuss power-sharing

LAHORE If PML-N tried to end PPP-led government at the Centre by exercising what Ch Nisar has called the 'third option of an in-House change, PPP has made up its mind to give a matching response to PML-N in Punjab setting aside its policy of reconciliation. Reliable party sources told TheNation on Wednesday that PPP will quit Punjab government the moment no-confidence motion is moved against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the National Assembly. After this move, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer will ask Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to seek fresh vote of confidence from the Assembly to prove majority in the House. In the meantime, PPP, in collaboration with its new-found ally, the PML-Q, would clinch a deal with members of the PML-Q forward bloc by offering them some ministries and other offices in the new set-up. The PPP stalwarts in Punjab, who are said to be in contact with the disgruntled legislators of the PML-Q, think that they would succumb to the temptation and join their camp because they have not been accommodated in the government in the past two-and-half years despite repeated assurances by the PML-N. The PML-N with its actual strength of 171 in a House of 371, needs 15 more members to save its government in Punjab in case PPP quits the coalition. It claims to have support of 48 members of PML-Q forward bloc, but they would get disqualified under the Constitution if they voted against the decision of their parliamentary leader in the Assembly, Ch Zaheeruddin Ahmad. The PML-N would still be short of four members to attain the required figure of 186 even if all five independent members, three of PML-F, two of MMA and one belonging to PML-Z decide to vote in its favour. Meanwhile, Federal Law Minister Dr Babar Awan had another round of talks with PML-Qs central leader Ch Pervaiz Elahi in National Assembly on Wednesday to settle modalities of mutual cooperation in the Centre and in Punjab. Pervaiz reportedly reassured the PPP leader that his party would stand with the PPP in case a no-confidence motion is moved against the Prime Minister. They also discussed modalities of power-sharing in Punjab if the situation so requires. After PM Gilanis statement in the National Assembly that neither he would dissolve the National Assembly nor Army will intervene to pave the way for mid-term polls, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Ch Nisar Ali Khan was quick to point out that there was a third option too, that of 'in-house change to do the 'needful. Ch Nisars reaction to Gilanis statement was a clear indication that PML-N could exercise what Ch Nisar called 'the third option any time. PPP insiders said that it was in this background that Babar Awan and Pervaiz met again to discuss their options. It has been learnt further that PPP would not disturb PML-N in Punjab as along as the latter does not pose any threat to its government in the Centre. The PPP-Q alliance has been formed as a precautionary measure and would remain at 'stand-by position to avert any crisis any time in the days to come, said a party source privy to the negotiations going on between the two parties.

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