PML-N kept guessing about next Zardari move
ISLAMABAD: The PPP cannot be denied its biggest achievement – confusing the PML-N.
The party’s recent moves have kept leaders of the main opposition party busy in guessing what the government is up to and calibrating potential political repercussions which could follow in coming weeks and months. This was the summed-up opinion of a number of PML-N lawmakers, when they were asked to comment on recent developments on the political front.
The appointment of Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim as chief election commissioner was a major surprise for the PML-N. After the PPP accepted the opposition’s nominee for the post, many top-ranking PML-N leaders were simply left ‘flabbergasted’, said one of its office-bearers.
“It was simply a bolt from the blue when the PPP conveyed to us its decision of accepting octogenarian Mr Ebrahim as next CEC. When the information was shared with the opposition leader, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is in London, he too expressed his surprise over the selection,” said the PML-N leader.
Earlier too, the PML-N wasn’t expecting that President Zardari would so meekly accept the removal of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani by the Supreme Court, which even surprised many in the ranks and file of the ruling party, said a PML-N lawmaker from Lahore.
PPP information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira had warned of consequences in the form of protests if Mr Gilani was sent home, but nothing happened.
The PPP is sending out every possible vibe of its intentions of not backing down on the issue of letter, which it had refused to write to the Swiss authorities against President Zardari. At the same time, its leaders keep on signalling to hold general elections within this year to ensure continuation of democratic dispensation in the country. Both Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and PPP’s chief whip in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah have said that 2012 was an election year.
But on ground the ruling party hasn’t made any serious contact with the PML-N or another party which could suggest that President Zardari was really interested in holding elections early.
“Frankly speaking, now the issue is not of early elections, but how to make it possible that we all move smoothly towards them,” answered the PML-N leader when asked about party’s major concern.
Elections in November, December or February, March, didn’t matter for the party, but yes the opposition was seriously concerned about the ongoing executive-judiciary clash which if not handled carefully could take any turn, said another PML-N leader on the condition of anonymity.
“We are virtually walking on a tight rope at the moment; fearing wrapping up of the whole system we don’t want to push the PPP too hard in its confrontation with the judiciary, neither we can resign from assemblies to enforce early elections because the party cannot afford to be left out of the decision making,” said the PML-N office-bearer.
Currently, another PML-N legislator said, his party didn’t know if the PPP wanted to go for early elections this year or after completing its five-year constitutional term that would end in March next year. Therefore, talks on composition of a caretaker set-up would only start once the PPP announced its plans for future election.
In response to a question, the PML-N leader said that after the selection of Mr Ebrahim the PPP would definitely demand its nominee to be selected for the position of caretaker prime minister.
A close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari told Dawn that the PPP leadership was in touch with all political stakeholders and not talking anything specific about elections or the caretaker set-up.
He said President Zardari’s overboard penchant for keeping in touch with politicians across parties and coolheaded-ness in crisis times had made it possible for him to take the PPP government this far.
Otherwise, he said, there had been many occasions over the past four years when majority in the party wanted to have a head-on collision, be it judiciary, the PML-N or the so-called establishment.
In response to a question, the aide said nobody even in his wild imaginations had thought that the PPP would accept the PML-N’s nominee for the CEC position, but when time came President Zardari happily endorsed the appointment.
“We in the PPP are expecting that after removal of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a decision which the party happily accepted without creating any fuss, this time Supreme Court will take a lenient view in Prime Minister Ashraf’s case,” he said. Now the ball is in the court of the Supreme Court which actually will determine future political course in the country, said the aide to the president, who didn’t want to be identified.