ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The stir created by a dramatic meeting between Law Minister Babar Awan and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Monday was somewhat mellowed by the PML-Q on Tuesday when its leaders said that it would be premature for any of the two parties to hope for a common agenda or a coalition.
And the PML-N, which was supposed to be the main target of the dramatic development, shrugged it off as ‘inconsequential’.
Leaders of both the PML-Q and the PML-N tried to play down the significance of the meeting by saying that the People’s Party had tried to fire a riposte to the Muttahida as the latter had been threatening to withdraw its support for the government.
The PML-N, however, was dismissive of the Awan-Pervaiz dialogue. “If any party stands to lose in the game, it is the PPP,” PML-N’s spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said while talking to Dawn in Islamabad.
He said the Lahore meeting was no news for him or his party because the PPP and the PML-Q had been in touch for a long time and had reached a “silent understanding” after the presidential elections in Sept 2008.
And in Lahore, a close aide Chaudhry Hussain said the meeting was just a case of satisfied ego for his party because it was too early to work out an arrangement with the PPP to establish the PML-N rule in Punjab.
Although Mr Ahsan Iqbal claimed that his party attached importance to the Awan-Elahi meeting, sources said that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had held two meetings with senior members of his party to discuss developments.
The sources claimed that PML-N leadership had decided to intensify contacts with other parties, including PPP’s coalition partners to pressure the federal government. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, on the other hand, claimed that the meeting was a part of his government’s consistent policy of political reconciliation.
However, observers were of the opinion that the Babar Awan initiative was meant to foil attempts being made to unify Muslim League factions and also to send a message to the PML-N that if it tried any hostile move at the centre, its government in Punjab could face a difficult situation.
Sources in PML-N said there was a group in the party which believed that Monday’s meeting was called to send a message to the MQM, which at one stage appeared to have decided to quit the federal and Sindh governments for their inaction over target killings in Karachi.
Ahsan Iqbal said Mr Sharif had invited him and Senator Pervez Rashid for an informal meeting to discuss matters relating to the party’s reorganisation. He claimed that the Awan-Elahi meeting was not discussed.
Mr Iqbal alleged that the federal government had imposed governor’s rule in Punjab in March last year in connivance with the PML-Q.
Likewise, he added, PML-Q had supported the PPP in several by-elections held recently. He alleged that both Mr Awan and Mr Elahi were involved in the Bank of Punjab scam and it appeared they had met to devise a plan to deal with the issue.
He said his party was not interested in maintaining contacts with the “remanants of Gen (retd) Musharraf” and those running “Musharraf’s reconciliation club”.
He also said the PPP would have to clarify its position to its own workers and tell them what had forced the leadership to approach a party that President Asif Zardari had branded as ‘Qatil’ (murderers) after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.