ISLAMABAD: Though the Pakistan People’s Party has wooed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement back and secured its government in the centre, there may not be smooth sailing for it in the troubled waters of Punjab where it is a coalition partner with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
The PML-N has given a deadline of six days to the party to accept or reject its 10-point economic reforms agenda. The deadline ends on Monday. In case of rejection, the PML-N has threatened to sack PPP ministers.
Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N chief, categorically announced on Friday that the Punjab government would part its ways with the PPP if demands of his party were not met before the deadline.
“If the federal government fails to give an assurance that it will meet our demands, we will have to say goodbye to the PPP in Punjab,” the PML-N chief said in a private TV show.
He was of the view that the PML-N would have to go to any extent to fulfil its agenda.
According to independent analysts, a major fallout of the PPP-MQM rapprochement could be in the form of a heightened confrontation between the PPP and PML-N in Punjab.
PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said the PPP-MQM understanding was very much on the cards and the PML-N was fully prepared for this.
Talking to Dawn, he refused to accept that sacking of PPP ministers would help create a sense of sympathy among people for them at a time when the party has lost its governor in the province.
He said: “The PML-N has had enough of duplicity, and our voters don’t want us to share power with PPP because it is not helping at the national level”.
He said since the PML-N had anticipated the MQM decision to go back to treasury benches, Mian Nawaz Sharif had decided much earlier not to become part of this ‘puppet show’.
“Now, one should put a simple question to the MQM what revolution the party has brought about after reversing its decision of quitting the coalition government,” Mr Iqbal said.
The party had forwarded a non-partisan agenda that mainly focused on national development, eradication of poverty and elimination of corruption.
“Thus, it will be the PML-N’s utmost desire the PPP government accepts our plan of action, otherwise, we will have no other option but to stick to our stand,” he said.
Analysts believe the PML-N has finally decided to get the PPP out of Punjab government and presentation of a 10-point agenda was just a political move.
According to a PML-Q MNA, in case the PPP tries to dislodge the PML-N government in Punjab, the party would need outright support from the PML-Q.
If one goes by numbers, the 371-strong Punjab Assembly has 170 MPAs from the PML-N, 107 from PPP and 85 from PML-Q. The PPP and PML-Q have the strength to outnumber PML-N.
But the major problem for the Chaudhrys is the PML-Q forward bloc of 45 MPAs. The bloc has so far stood by Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif.
The PML-Q lawmaker said that it was a Godsend opportunity for the Chaudhrys to stage a coup in the province against the Sharifs, provided they were able to bring back members of the forward bloc. It is a risk worth taking, he added.
In March 2009, when the federal government imposed governor’s rule in Punjab in the hope of upstaging the PML-N government in the province, it was the same forward bloc, led by Atta Mohammad Manika, which shielded the Shahbaz government.
Mr Iqbal said the PML-Q forward bloc had offered an unconditional support to the PML-N in Punjab. Thus, he said, his party was sitting comfortably in the province.