A highly unpopular break up

The break up of the PPP-PML(N) coalition in less than six weeks of being in power has widely disheartened the masses who had welcomed it as a guarantee against the conspiracies hatched by the guardians of the status quo. Hopes that together the two mainstream parties would improve the lot of the people have been shattered. Fears are also being expressed that it might not remain possible to continue the ongoing attempt to stem the tide of extremism and militancy through talks, in the faces of Washington's pressure, which had led to the cessation of suicide attacks. There are other things that make people worry. The bonhomie still being expressed by the traditional rivals might turn out to be temporary and they might soon revert to the type of intolerance and mad power struggle that characterised them during 1988-1999 period. Zardari is to be the main loser as a result of the coalition's break up. After his remark that the Bhurban Declaration was only a political statement, few would take his pronouncements seriously in days to come. Statements like "I consider Mian Nawaz my brother" or "We are going to retain the friendship in the coming generations also" would be considered empty political statements not meant to be seriously acted upon. Instead of being taken as observations by a mature statesman they would remind many of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain's frivolous remarks of the mitti pao sort. People were preparing to forgive Zardari's weaknesses like the secret purchase of Rockwood Estate and millions of dollars collected from dubious sources kept in Swiss banks that he had denied for years. They had thought the suffering undergone for over a decade and the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto had had a sobering effect on him. The memories of these affairs have again been revived. The only person to benefit from the February elections is Zardari. Thanks the deal with Musharraf that led to the promulgation of the NRO, courts continue to acquit him in case after case. On Wednesday he was cleared from the container case also allegedly involving the smuggling of artefacts that were supposed to decorate the Rockwood Estate. The common man meanwhile continues to suffer. The prices of wheat flour, vegetables, pulses, edible oil and other food items continue to rise with the result that millions of people are being forced to cut down on the consumption of the most essential items causing malnutrition and making them prone to disease. Whatever hopes the masses had attached with the PPP leadership are fast fading away. With the coalition breaking up, the PPP would soon be driven into the embrace of the MQM, Q League, Pagara League, PPP (Sherpao), NPP, a clutch of Independents and their patron-in-chief Musharraf. The formation of the new coalition which would be ushered by Zardari in as a Grand National coalition would signal the return of the old order within weeks of the elections. The new bedfellows awaiting Zardari are precisely the elements responsible for the present economic mess, rise in poverty, and spread of extremism and militancy. It was this much-hated combination that the people voted to remove. Even a section of the PPP supporters blames Asif Ali Zardari for letting the opportunity to have a stable, democratic government capable of ruling five years slip out of hands. There are others who blame him of shaking hands with MQM who was responsible for the May 12 mayhem in Karachi. With the coalition breaking up, realpolitik would be the rule of the day. The PML(N) led government in Punjab is bound to be the next target of Musharraf and his allies who would like to have their own men ruling the most populous province. Once the PML(N) government in Punjab is removed through political engineering, the party will be left with no choice but to retaliate. Mian Nawaz Sharif will consequently join hands with whatsoever allies are available including the forces with reactionary tendencies. The people who were fed up with the wrangling between these two parties that led to the military rule would be thoroughly disgusted if they again take resort to it. The break up of the coalition amid reports of shady deals and backstage activities will harm the image of the politicians in general. E-mail: azizuddin@nation.com.pk

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