Amid rapidly unfolding negotiations between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) for a political alliance that would see the latter join the federal cabinet, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) has begun hectic efforts to convince the Chaudharys not to fall for the government’s offer.
JUI-F Secretary General Maulana Ghafoor Haidri has the party mandate to hold a meeting with the PML-Q leadership by the end of this week in Islamabad to discuss current political developments, including Chaudhry Shujaat’s negotiations with the ruling party.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Maulana Ghafoor Haidri confirmed that a meeting was scheduled with the PML-Q leadership. Senator Talha of the JUI-F also met with Chaudhry Shujaat at his residence on Tuesday. “Yes, we will convince Chaudhry sahib not to sit on the treasury benches because the incumbent government always lets down her allies in the centre.” He said he would hold a meeting with the Chaudhrys since JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is out of the country. He is due to return by the first week of May.
JUI-F sources said that the party leadership wants to work with both groups of the PML-Q. The JUI-F and a unified PML-Q enjoy the mandate of 61 MNAs and 32 senators. If the two enter into an alliance, they may give the ruling PPP a tough time for the approval of the 2011-2012 fiscal budget, which is expected to be presented in Parliament by the end of May.
“It will be the last nail in its coffin if the PML-Q joins the federal government lured by the offer of federal ministries,” said a senior party worker. At a time when the JUI-F is making hectic efforts to convince PML-Q and MQM to stay in the opposition, the party is feeling increasingly isolated in the political scenario that is taking shape, he said. The JUI-F is not happy with the ruling party over its failure to implement the parliamentary committee’s recommendations for combating terror and halting drone attacks in the north. “The decision to sit on the opposition benches was taken in the national interest as well as on the behest of party workers because the PPP could not deliver results,” said Senator Ismail Buledi. Learning from past experience, the JUI-F will not support the government, he explained.
“We will play the political game in the national interest and we will continue to act as a strong opposition with the mandate of 12 senators, nine MNAs, 10 MPAs from Balochistan, 15 MPAs from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, one from Punjab and four from Gilgit-Baltistan,” he said. Meanwhile, party insiders say the PML-Q leadership approached the JUI-F for joining the cabinet in the national interest for the sake of averting a showdown. The PML-Q wants to take the MQM and the JUI-F, former allies of the ruling party on board before joining the federal cabinet to minimise the chances of a possible betrayal by the PPP.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2011.