Marriage of inconvenience

Differences between the ruling PTI and its coalition partners appear to have been widened. From the very outset skepticism has been expressed about its being remaining intact keeping in view the well-entrenched culture of making and breaking alliances and coalitions purely for personal political and monetary gains. Horse trading and floor crossing, formation of forward blocks had formed a sad chapter of Pakistan’s political history.  The elected government that came to power after the partly-less polls in 1985 introduced the lust for parliamentarians’ development funds which haunts every elected government. The lawmakers are always keener to put pressure on governments for the rerelease of these funds which are grossly misappropriated. The self-serving attitude of political elite has eroded the trust of the people in parliamentary democracy.

After the resignation of MQM federal minister for Information Technology Khalid MaqboolSiddique, the absence of PML-Q Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema from the Federal Cabinet meeting on Tuesday without prior notice is not less than a jolt for the federal government in the center and provincial government of Punjab.

Special Assistance to the Prime Minister on Information FirduosAsiqAsiqAwan, in a post cabinet press conference, attempted to downplay the level of trust deficit between the ruling party and its allies. She said that MQM has left the federal cabinet but it will remain ally of the government. However, she did not tell the reason as to why PML-Q minster skipped the cabinet meeting. But PML-Q Information Secretary Kamil Ali Agha, while talking to a private TV Channel, did not mince words to explain the reasons of his party leadership complaints against the chief executive of the country. He said that the Prime Minister did not accept some genuine legal and constitutional demands of PML-Q. In this context he referred to the meetings of ChaudhryMonisElahi meetings with the Prime Minister. It is no longer a secret that its leadership wants this gentleman to be inducted in the federal cabinet in addition to getting more shares in the provincial cabinet of Punjab.

As last resort of trouble shooting exercise, the Prime Minister has tasked a negotiating team comprising Defence Minister PervaizKhattak, senior PTI leader JhangirTareen and Punjab Chief Minister UsmanBuzdar to hold meeting with PML-Q delegation consisting of federal Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema, MNA ChaufhryPonisElahi and some other members of Chaudhris’ family to iron out differences between the two parties and keep the coalition intact.

PTI does not have even simple majority in the lower house of the parliament and is vulnerable to the pressure tactics of its allied parties at a time that major opposition parties PML-N and PPP had already made their intention known about in-house change. The option may be still on the table even after the emergence of rift in the rank and file of PML-N after support to the government on amendment in the Army Act notwithstanding. On the contrary JUI (F) Central Amir MaulanaFazaluRehman may have not given up his future plan of protest against the government.

The PML-Q leadership has always preferred to tacitly sail simultaneously in two boats. While in government during 2002-7, they remained in touch with Nawaz Sharif in exile in Saudi Arabia, betraying their benefactor General Musharraf. They may be still in contact with the former disqualified Prime Minister. The situation in the region is still fluid due US-Iran tension and situation on the line of control. In the prevailing scenario the country cannot afford political instability. The government needs unflinching support not only from its allies but opposition as well.