The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is seeking the support of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) for the Bahawalpur Janoobi Punjab (BJP) provinces, The Express Tribune has learned.
According to credible sources, the ruling party has offered to meet the two parties’ demands regarding the dual nationality bill and governor’s rule in Balochistan – MQM wants the dual nationality bill passed at all cost while JUI-F demands the restoration of the Balochistan Assembly and an end to governor’s rule in the province. They said PPP MNA Khursheed Shah is engaged in talks with both parties in this regard.
Reportedly PPP is close to reaching consensus with JUI-F with regards to their demands. The sources claimed this had been the reason for postponing the joint parliamentary session to validate governor’s rule in Balochistan. According to article 234(3) of the Constitution, the proclamation of a state of emergency must be validated by the Parliament.
Sources alleged the reason behind JUI-F’s demand for restoring the Balochistan Assembly were certain development funds, frozen after governor’s rule had been imposed. They claimed the party needed funds in order to contest the upcoming elections. PPP’s decision to postpone the joint sitting of the parliament was part of a deal with JUI-F, they added, saying the latter would support the bill to create the new province in exchange.
According to reports, JUI-F’s Maulana Shirani has forwarded a detailed proposal for restoring the Balochistan Assembly to PPP. Reportedly, the politico-religious party has asked for the chief minister’s slot in the revamped provincial government. JUI-F senior leader Ghafoor Haideri could not be contacted for confirmation.
At the same time, PPP’s talks with MQM are still in progress, according to sources in the party. In addition to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Awami National Party (ANP) and JUI-F have expressed opposition towards the dual nationality bill as well. The sources said PPP leadership has asked their MQM counterparts to at least win support from JUI-F in this regard or suggest an alternative to get the bill passed by the parliament. The ruling party has also asked MQM to try to get ANP to support the bill as well.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain recently held talks with ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman in this regard.
While PPP’s central information secretary could not be reached, the party’s Punjab spokesperson Shaukat Mehmood Basra said that both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf have assured him that the bill for creating the province will be successfully adopted in parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2013.