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February 9, 2013

Prime minister, his deputy contemplate ‘Jamhoori Ittehad’

February 9, 2013


Certain quarters within the government that include the core team of PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and that of DPM Ch Pervaiz Elahi are contemplating formation of a four-to-five party ‘Jamhoori Ittehad’ (Alliance) and if the plan proceeds well, the Ittehad will get registered with ECP and apply for a combined election symbol, ‘The News’ has learnt from reliable sources.
The understanding on this matter is reported to have been arrived at, in principle, as Number One Contingency Plan, during a meeting held between Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, at Prime Minister’s House Wednesday evening.
According to the sources, the need for such an Ittehad arose following the Pakistan People’s Party leadership’s stress on election partners from Pakistan Muslim League-Q to contest on the mutually agreed seats under the old election symbol of PPP i.e ‘arrow.’
The PML-Q leaders in the higher echelons and even in middle and lower echelons have taken strong exception to this suggestion of PPP leaders primarily because they are of the view that the elections just can’t be contested mechanically or like a push-button formula. “It involves rapidly changing human minds and moods that just can’t be convinced to change their original or fixed opinions about the election symbols’ importance ingrained in their minds”, say the sources on the basis of their discussions with leaders holding parleys with the PM and with other leaders of the PPP.
On the other hand, the PPP leaders still opine that their election symbol ‘arrow’ continues to be quite popular among the people/potential voters and it is in that backdrop that they are trying to persuade the PML-Q with the rhetoric that the Q-League’s symbol, ‘cycle’, has dwindled in popularity, hence the stress on ‘arrow.’ This conflict of approach led to the proposal of going for a middle-of-the-road option of ‘Ittehad’

that is also motivated by the desire of the two election partners to add other like-minded parties to the ‘alliance under consideration’ throughout the country.
According to the sources, if the two major partners, the PPP and PML-Q, fail to agree on contesting the elections on their respective symbols, there is no alternative left other than the ‘Ittehad’ option which has, therefore, been picked up as Number One Contingency Plan.
The two parties don’t want to break with each other under any circumstances, say the sources, and moreover, they want to get yet stronger with the support of other parties.
Sources have informed that while other parties mean ANP, MQM, the closer the country zeroes in on general elections, there is likelihood of some other parties coming into the fold of the ‘Ittehad’, especially those treading the path of isolating or undermining the major political party, Pakistan Muslim League-N.
A simultaneous move is reported to have gained momentum among certain quarters that are working on a contingency plan to make sure — or at least try their utmost to make sure that the election predominantly remains a two-party affair on the national front, instead of being triangular. Whether this intersecting activity takes off in real terms, the move, according to the sources, has emanated from the developments taking place in the secretariats of the PM and the DPM.
The sources say that if it materializes as per its original idea (of two-party system), the nation might see more parties joining the ‘Ittehad’ in the near future i.e. well before the forthcoming general elections. The PTI and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s party might also be left with limited options on this count, say the sources.
As regards the PPP-PML-Q seat adjustment formula on which lot of wild guesses are being heard, the sources said in order to end confusion and political wrangling, it has been mutually agreed upon among the top leaders to remain stuck to the formula. In addition to the already agreed formula on allowing the contest on same seats to the winners of PML-Q in Punjab and National assemblies, consensus has also developed on allowing the PML-Q candidates to contest those seats where the PPP or PML-Q candidates lost to PML-N candidates but managed to bag the second position. As for the question of deserters or defected PML-Q or weak candidates, the leaders of both the parties would mutually deliberate upon these matters on case-to-case basis and then decide the matter.
Yet more sources have confirmed the moves going on under-the-surface to give tough time to PML-N. These sources have used the term ‘wash the party’ in this context and according to them, there is a chance that quarters interested in seeing PML-N isolated or defeated, might seize the opportunity provided by PPP-PML-Q proximity to ensure that their ‘target’ is achieved.
But the political observers, analysts and opinion pollsters see the PML-N gaining strength in the public opinion that might bring other than PPP-Q League ‘Ittehad’ parties into the PML-N-led election alliance but with the probable exception of the PTI and Dr Tahirul Qadri.
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