Ma­jor op­tions for the PPP

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

The exit of the JUI-F has strength­ened the MQM po­si­tion to ap­ply pres­sure on the PPP and se­cure more po­lit­i­cal and ma­te­rial div­i­dends. If the pres­sure tac­tics do not work, the MQM can ex­er­cise the with­drawal op­tion. The exit of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Is­lam-Fazl (JUI-F) from the fed­eral govern­ment on De­cem­ber 14 un­der­lines the prob­lems of man­ag­ing a coali­tion of di­verse po­lit­i­cal el­e­ments. This also shows how lead­ers pur­sue pol­i­tics as a per­son­al­ity drive, and par­ties are nar­rowly fo­cused on their agen­das, mak­ing for a par­ti­san in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the na­tional in­ter­est.

The JUI-F has eight mem­bers in the Na­tional Assem­bly but en­joyed a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the good­ies of power. It had three cabi­net po­si­tions un­til it de­cided to quit the cabi­net. Its leader, Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman, is the chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on Kash­mir and re­cently un­der­took a for­eign trip os­ten­si­bly to prop­a­gate the cause of Kash­mir. The JUI-F is well rep­re­sented in other par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees and con­tin­ues to be part of the coali­tion govern­ment with the Pak­istan Peo­ple's Party (PPP) in Balochis­tan. One of its se­nior mem­bers has re­cently been given the cov­eted post of the chair­man Coun­cil of Is­lamic Ide­ol­ogy (CII).

Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman's de­ci­sion to quit the coali­tion govern­ment was a re­tal­ia­tory move against the re­moval of Azam Swati, a wealthy per­son known as one of the ma­jor fi­nanciers of the JUI-F. The maulana hardly ac­knowl­edged that the PPP also sac­ri­ficed its min­is­ter in this case. How long could the prime min­is­ter af­ford two cabi­net mem­bers trad­ing charges and counter-charges in pub­lic? It seems that the hajj ar­range­ments were mis­man­aged and it cre­ated strong com­plaints of cor­rup­tion. This episode re­vived the de­sire of the JUI-F to get the min­istry of re­li­gious af­fairs, which seems to have acquired salience as the com­pe­ti­tion for power and in­flu­ence has in­ten­si­fied be­tween the cham­pi­ons of the Deobandi and Barelvi Is­lamic tra­di­tions.

The exit of the JUI-F does not pose any im­me­di­ate threat to the PPP-led fed­eral govern­ment. How­ever, it has in­creased the im­por­tance of the Mut­tahida Qaumi Move­ment (MQM) in the coali­tion. If the MQM also with­draws from the coali­tion, the PPP will have to look for new part­ners to save its govern­ment.

The MQM's pol­i­tics re­volves around sus­tain­ing its pri­macy in ur­ban Sindh, es­pe­cially in Karachi. It does not want the Awami Na­tional Party (ANP) or the PPP to chal­lenge its abil­ity to con­trol re­wards and pun­ish­ment in Karachi. The hard core of these three par­ties clash with one an­other from time to time. Two weeks ago, Sindh's In­te­rior Min­is­ter Zul­fiqar Mirza lashed out at the MQM, hold­ing it re­spon­si­ble for in­creased vi­o­lence in Karachi. This state­ment an­noyed the MQM.

The MQM also in­creased its pres­sure by giv­ing a dead­line of 10 days to the PPP to ex­plain if the state­ment of Zul­fiqar Mirza rep­re­sented the of­fi­cial po­si­tion of the PPP. They want the PPP to re­strain Mirza from mak­ing such stri­dent state­ments.

Though the MQM is un­happy with the PPP, it does not want the PPP govern­ment to col­lapse at this stage. How­ever, it would con­tinue to ap­ply pres­sure on the PPP by dis­tanc­ing it­self from some of the govern­ment poli­cies, crit­i­cis­ing the PPP poli­cies in Karachi, and re­strict­ing the scope of co­op­er­a­tion with the PPP. The exit of the JUI-F has strength­ened the MQM po­si­tion to ap­ply pres­sure on the PPP and se­cure more po­lit­i­cal and ma­te­rial div­i­dends. If the pres­sure tac­tics do not work, the MQM can ex­er­cise the with­drawal op­tion.

The Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has al­ready de­manded mid-term elec­tions and it is more crit­i­cal of the PPP now than was the case three months ago. Though it would be happy if the fed­eral govern­ment col­lapses, it does not want to ini­ti­ate the move. It has, there­fore, adopted a 'wait and see' pol­icy, hop­ing that the PPP govern­ment would col­lapse be­cause of its own pol­icy blun­ders or due to the cracks in the coali­tion. The Pak­istan Mus­lim LeagueQuaid (PML-Q) has acquired salience af­ter the exit of the JUI-F and the mount­ing of pres­sure by the MQM. It has enough seats in the Na­tional Assem­bly to make it­self at­trac­tive for the PPP if it en­gages in a search for new al­lies.

The PPP has sev­eral op­tions avail­able to cope with the present cri­sis. The PPP would like to win back the JUI-F. Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman may not soon re­turn to the PPP fold at this stage. How­ever, he is not ex­pected to join any anti-PPP coali­tion in the near fu­ture. He will give more at­ten­tion to re­li­gious is­sues like the Blas­phemy Law to strengthen his po­si­tion among the Is­lamists, which will, in turn, in­crease pres­sure on the PPP.

The PPP can mend its fences with the MQM by re­strain­ing Zul­fiqar Mirza from pe­ri­odic on­slaughts on the MQM. Mean­while, it can strengthen its re­la­tion­ship with in­de­pen­dent mem­bers and smaller po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

The PPP can cul­ti­vate the PML-Q, es­pe­cially if the MQM de­cides to quit the coali­tion. The PML-Q would be will­ing to join the PPP if the lat­ter sup­ports the for­mer's bid to dis­lodge the PML-N govern­ment in Pun­jab. The PPP will go for this op­tion if the MQM quits the part­ner­ship with the PPP and the PML-N em­barks on dis­lodg­ing the PPP govern­ment though a vote of no-con­fi­dence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.