Sharif agenda: Gilani caves in to opposition demands

PML-N withdraws deadline, gives ruling party 45 days to implement reforms; MQM welcomes the decision.

Zia Khan January 10, 2011


The government has steered its way out of choppy political waters by holding out promises of economic and administrative reforms and acceding to the main opposition party’s demands.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced at a news conference on Sunday that his government had accepted a raft of demands made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

“I have told Mian Sahib (Nawaz Sharif) that we are positive about his demands and he replied, ‘if you are positive then we will not part ways with your party in Punjab’,” Gilani told the media after spending a hectic day calling almost all national leaders. “It is the national agenda now. We have to work together to guide the country out of crises.”

Sharif’s party immediately withdrew the deadline it had set the government following the prime minister’s pledge. However, another deadline looms for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. Now Gilani’s party has to keep its pledge and fulfill the demands within 45 days.

The PML-N is in no mood to ease up just yet. Its leaders cautioned that they would keep a close eye on the implementation of the reforms.

Both Gilani and a PML-N spokesperson said that a three-member committee led by Senator Ishaq Dar would coordinate with the government on how to go ahead with the implementation of the reform agenda proposed by Sharif.

The latest conciliatory gesture on the part of the government comes on the heels of last week’s reversal of a fuel price hike – a key concession aimed at winning over estranged ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Sharif’s party had also wanted fuel prices to remain unchanged. Along with that PML-N had called upon the government to probe corruption cases, reduce non-development spending by one third, and set up an independent election body.

The government briefly lost its slender majority in parliament after the MQM pulled out of the ruling coalition following a similar defection by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

“I have also called Maulana Fazlur Rehman and whether he rejoins the government, well, it is his prerogative, his own politics,” Gilani said when asked if he had invited the JUI-F to rejoin the ruling coalition.

Dar, a former finance minister, told a television channel that he would recommend a slimmed down version of the government to curtail non-development expenditures.

Referring to the politicians he had spoken to, Gilani said the response from other political leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and MQM’s Altaf Hussain was also positive.

A statement by the MQM from its Karachi media office said Hussain had welcomed Gilani’s gesture of accepting PML-N’s demands and voiced hope it would auger well for the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2011.


Hina Iqbal | 10 years ago | Reply The PML-N is not yet ready for elections, which remains a serious indictment of the largest opposition party in parliament; it has no assurance of a victory were it to enter elections with its current organisational structure. The party has not worked at potential partners in the increasing likelihood of another coalition government even if polls are held full-term. It has rather serious fence-mending to do, which will remain a serious inhibitor. Its leadership was absent when the going was tough for the nation and the resulting despondence may yet surprise the party further in an electoral exercise. Implicitly all that reservoir of multifaceted intellect in the party has remained untapped even as the nation has continued to suffer. There has never been a programme offered by the party for masses’ relief from manifold predicaments. The party is instead seen to have played opportunistic politics and used issues such as Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and petroleum prices to whip up frenzy, without offering a practical way out to jump-start the economy.
AM | 10 years ago | Reply I just have a very simple question to ask. Is there any one looking for the best interests of the country and its suffering population or are we just focused on "kursi"? This is such a bad turn of events; this compromise on easing oil prices because now we will have to print more money and see higher inflation. Guys, this movie has already been played; its titled Zimbabwe. I hope we don't get there but all indications are that we will (soon). May God bless Pakistan and its valiant folks!
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