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February 13, 2015

PPP-MQM new journey with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’

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February 13, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has postponed his visit to Karachi, but he will be a relieved man after PPP and MQM have decided to begin a new political journey, which has defused the political tension, though there are still lots of ifs and buts between the two parties.
When Nawaz Sharif visited Karachi last month both parties were on the warpath and almost on “no talking terms.” In the last few days the political temperature did go high, but this time it was between MQM and PTI.
It will be interesting to note whether PPP-MQM have joined hands out of compulsion or will it really be a new journey, burying the bitter past. It looks difficult but it is the only option for peace in Sindh as well as its economic development. But one still has to wait and see the “written accord” between the two representative parties of Sindh. Both have supported the ongoing “operation” which will continue. Former President Asif Ali Zardari faced internal criticism and pressure when he informed his top leaders about seat adjustment with MQM in the Senate and also about the new accord.
Mr Zardari, who is now tightening his grip on the party after reports that the party’s senior most leader, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, is not happy with some of the decisions he has taken. His absence from the Parliamentary Board’s meetings and not awarding a single ticket on Amin Fahim’s recommendations has raised many questions. Whether these differences are of serious nature or not but the fact remained that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, for all practical purposes, is no longer chairman of the PPP.
Mr. Zardari also knows that there still are strong reservations over this accord within PPP, Sindh, particularly at this crucial time. It is important for him to satisfy his leaders from interior Sindh as well as from Karachi.
Rehman Malik, the man behind the new accord, does not enjoy support in the PPP, Sindh, yet this accord with MQM has added one more seat to the PPP

tally, from six to seven in the senate elections, which is crucial as the party will hardly be getting any seat from other three province.Secondly, Mr Zardari also knows that he needs MQM to check the entry of PTI in Sindh.
Thirdly, local bodies elections are also in his mind and that is why he is making new alliances in Sindh. MQM will be getting Karachi and Hyderabad while it will support PPP in interior Sindh.
At the same time Mr Zardari needs to control his ministers and local leaders, as they will be facing tough questions from the media in the “talk shows.” He will be facing some problems in interior Sindh, as he not having the best of terms with his school-time friend, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, these days.
Mirza is also not happy with the arrest of Uzair Baluch in Dubai and his possible extradition to Pakistan. But, his main differences are not with Zardari but with his sister, Faryal Talpur.Sensing the possible dissent in the party, the PPP co-chairman will be making a few important decisions about his relations with Functional Muslim League and smaller groups.
One of the crucial alliances, expected on Friday, will be Jatois joining hands with Zardari, bringing an end to the decades-old political rivalries. It will certainly change the political dynamics of Nawabshah.
It was also not be an easy decision for the MQM and its chief, Altaf Hussain, either. He too is facing problems in his own party and frequent reshuffle in the Rabita Committee is an indication of his problems.
There were two strong opinions within MQM over this alliance. One, how long will this alliance last given the past experience? MQM too has been facing criticism of weakening its bargaining position and as a result has settled for one or two ministries. Second, how much 60-40 pc sharing formula would be implemented. There is a soft corner within MQM for Asif Ali Zardari, but party leaders still have fears about the response from PPP Sindh. Some were of the opinion that MQM should have gone along with PML (N) but they had second thoughts when it became evident that Nawaz Shari wants his men elected as chairman and deputy chairman Senate.
Therefore, it will be a big relief for MQM if the two sides implement the new charter, which will be signed by Mr Zardari and Mr Alaf Hussain. Previous accords between the two failed because of lack of trust in each other. In 1988, both PPP and MQM had a written accord, which on paper was the real hardwork of people like P.K.Shahani. The break up came in 1990, when PPP government was dismissed. In 2013, MQM had a long partnership with PPP, but the coalition saw lots of ups and down during its five-year term.
With PML (N) having little political stake in Karachi or in Sindh, Nawaz Sharif appears to be happy with Asif Ali Zardari’s political handling of MQM.It was a major political decision byMr Zardari in the backdrop of the recent developments, when MQM was facing criticism from PTI and some other circles and has been blamed for Baldia factory fire, which it vehemently denied.

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