PPP-'N' chasm deepens

ISLAMABAD - The chasm between the two already estranged coalition partners, Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), deepened, as the leadership of both the parties have started washing their dirty linen in public. According to sources, the leadership of PML-N charged that PPP had once again backtracked on the judges' restoration issue by nominating Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari as party candidate for the slot of president of Pakistan, before doing away with the 17th Constitutional Amendment and Draconian 58-2(b) and that was another violation of the written agreement between the two sides. Similarly PML-N attributed the announcement of the election schedule for the Presidential election as another attempt to put the restoration of judges in limbo and the party leaders expressed their anger and dismay over the situation and saw little chances of coalition's survival. A PML-N central leader requesting not to be named was much pessimistic about the future of the four-party ruling alliance and said that only a miracle could save it now. The political analysts said that the dialogues between the two sides, which were earlier under the control of doves from both sides, were now taken over by the hawks and the chances of survival of the alliance were slim. According to the sources privy to the developments taking place on the national political horizon with particular reference to the four parties forming the ruling coalition, the things were wide open and the developments over the next couple of days could swing it in any direction and the alliance could break apart. These sources said that it was with this perception in mind that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari himself opted to be the candidate for the office of the President so that in case of break-up with main coalition partner PML-N, the PPP would be in command of the situation to meet any eventuality. The sources privy to the deliberations of the PPP meeting over the past few days disclosed to TheNation that earlier Asif Ali Zardari was planning to launch some senior leader of his party as presidential candidate. But when the PML-N leadership exerted extra pressure on him on the judges' restoration, which he was not prepared to do in the PML-N way, he gave a second thought to his policy towards the presidential candidate and preferred to become the candidate himself. PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari remained discussing the issue with the party leadership both in Zardari House and later in Prime Minister House and it was decided that by presenting himself as the party candidate for the slot of president would serve two purposes, first they would leave little room for the other coalition partners to object and secondly if they had to restore the judges in the next week under pressure from the coalition partners, they could save him (Zardari) from the immediate threat in case the apex court revoked the National Reconciliation Ordinance as being the President of Pakistan he would have immunity against any criminal proceedings against him. In the meantime as an alternative arrangement in case of break-up of the alliance both PPP and PML-N were also working on their respective plan 'B'. In this connection the growing closeness of PPP with MQM with news coming in that MQM legislators would soon be joining the Federal Cabinet while on the other hand the extension of support to the candidature of Asif Ali Zardari for the slot of President of Pakistan was also not without any meanings. On the other hand PML-N leadership on a move to woo maximum support of remnants of the Q-League in Punjab was a signal to their senior coalition partners that they were also holding their ground strong in case some attempt to topple their government in Punjab would be made. " Abrar Saeed

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