Saturday, February 26, 2011

PPP, PML(N) part ways in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was expelled from the ruling coalition in Punjab on Friday after the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) shored up its government with the help of a breakaway faction of the PML (Quaid).

The break-up of the “blow-hot-blow-hot” relationship between the two main political parties of the country was announced by the PML (N) chief and former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and the reason cited was failure of the PPP to implement a bulk of the 10-point agenda presented by his party in January as a pre-condition for continuing with the ruling arrangement in Punjab.

The announcement came at the expiry of the 45-day deadline set by the PML (N) and after an eleventh-hour meeting between the leaderships of the two parties on Thursday. The PPP as always stressed the need to continue with the policy of reconciliation to ensure that the democratic set-up was not destabilised. This was reiterated after the break-up by federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Raza Rabbani when he was fielded by the PPP to provide a point-by-point response to the PML (N) charge of failure to implement the 10-point agenda.

Mr. Rabbani said his party would play the role of an “effective opposition” in Punjab. Maintaining that the PPP would not play the politics of the 1990s when political parties were busy destabilising democratically elected governments, he said his party would, however, hold the Punjab government accountable for its actions.

As to whether the break-up would impact the federal government, Mr. Rabbani was confident there would be no mid-term election and asserted the PPP-led ruling dispensation would complete its term. While the failure to implement the 10-point agenda is being cited as reason for the PML (N) to dump the PPP in Punjab, the primary reason is to create a distance with its principal political opponent in the country.

Ever since it decided to have a coalition with the PPP in Punjab and became part of the ruling alliance at the Centre before leaving it over the issue of reinstatement of the superior judiciary, the PML(N) has had to face ridicule for being a “friendly opposition party”.

With elections due in two years, pressure is mounting on the PML(N) leadership from its workers to distance itself from the PPP.

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