PPP, PML-Q clinch deal
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD: It’s official: the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) have set the seal on their alliance and the Q-League will join the federal cabinet at 7pm on Monday.
According to late night announcements on Sunday from the Presidency and by PML-Q leaders, the two parties inked a power sharing agreement under which the latter will be included in the federal cabinet and the two parties will jointly contest the next general election in 2013.
Under the deal, the PML-Q will send to the cabinet a “senior minister”, four federal ministers and six ministers of state.
The slot of senior minister will go to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the former Punjab chief minister.Three advisers to the prime minister will also be taken from the party.
The Q League has also been promised the office of deputy prime minister, which will be created after some amendments to the Constitution. If the post is created, Pervaiz Elahi will become deputy prime minister.
“The office of deputy prime minister will be created after necessary amendments in the Constitution,’ said Mr Elahi in a press talk after the meeting.
“Our minister will take oath in a ceremony today (Monday) at 7 pm,” he added.
The meeting also decided to persuade the disgruntled coalition partner, Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), to return to the federal cabinet.
“Following the agreement in principle, the PML-Q agreed to form a coalition government with the PPP at the centre headed by the PPP Prime Minister,” said the President’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar.
The two parties, he said, had also “agreed to cooperate” in the next elections.
They agreed to work together and cooperate for strengthening democracy, ensuring electoral changes, carry out reforms in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), carving out of new provinces, especially in southern Punjab (Seraiki belt) and in the Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But the decision will be done only after ascertaining the approval of all stake holders. Amendments to the Constitution will follow.
The Q-league leaders tipped for slots in the federal cabinet are: Faisal Saleh Hayat, Amir Muqam, Ghous Bakhsh Mehr and Jam Yousuf. The offices of state ministers are likely to be given to Sheikh Waqas Akram, Sardar Shahjehan Yousuf, Ayaz Sherazi, Raza Hayat Hiraj, Bahadur Khan Sehr, Khawaja Sheraz, Aslam Bodla, Ahmed Tariq Azeem.
Raja Basharat, Mustafa Khokhar and Qasim Shah are likely to be appointed advisers to the prime minister.
A source in the PML_Q said three ministries were likely to be given to party’s Likeminded group as, according to him, back-channel efforts were under way to appease the faction.
The presidential spokesman said: “The two parties agreed to cooperate in a number of areas of concern to the people, including economic uplift, controlling inflation, issues in power shortage, transparency and accountability and strengthening of the law and order situation in the country.”
The PPP and PML-Q had rejected any change in the government, except through free, fair and transparent elections as laid down in the constitution, the spokesman said.
Political analysts said the alliance would not be an enduring one and predicted an early demise. “The problems of the people will remain unsolved even after the new coalition arrangements,” Haroon Rashid, an analyst remarked.
The PML-Q was represented at the final round of talks, held in the President’s House, by Chaurdhry Shujaat Hussain, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Raja Basharat while the People’s Party was represented by President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Raja Pervez Ashraf.
In a news briefing, the presidential spokesman said the meeting took place as part of the ongoing dialogue between the two parties which were “aimed at political re-alignment and strengthening reconciliation to address various issues confronting the country in an atmosphere of political stability, mutual tolerance and accommodation”.
The two sides also agreed to make Seraiki and Hazara provinces for which a commission is likely to be formed. However the composition of the commission could not ascertain.
It is believed that with the creation of deputy prime minister’s slot, powers of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will be curtailed as some of his powers are likely to be shifted to the deputy prime minister.
The PPP core committee and parliamentary committee met last week and gave their consent on the alliance and mandate to the President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to make a deal with the PML-Q.
The PPP required PML-Q to ensure comprehensive majority in the parliament especially after two coalition partners Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) parted ways with the government.
The PPP sources said according to the draft agreement two parties will make seat adjustment in the next general elections, senate polls, which will be held on 2012, and Punjab provincial assembly elections.
It has been agreed that the sitting MNAs of the PPP and the Q-League will be given tickets from their respective constituencies and provincial assembly tickets will be given in contrast with national assembly seats.
“For example if the leader of PPP is holding MNA seat, in the same constituency leader of Q-League will be given provincial assembly seat and it will be vise-versa,” said a source in the PPP.
The PPP sources said there was some resentment within the PPP over the alliance as a result President Zardari had started a consultative process of PPP leaders to seek their consent and support over Q-League’s induction in the government to have a comprehensive majority in the parliament.