Man with a plan: Strategies, schedules and another term for the president

Published: September 26, 2011
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With PML-Q, ANP and JUI in the loop, Zardari is all set to remain in power. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

With PML-Q, ANP and JUI in the loop, Zardari is all set to remain in power. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari is set to secure another term as president even if his ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) fails to grab a majority in the National Assembly in the upcoming general elections.

The only thing he wants to, and has to, ensure is that Senate elections, for half of the Senate seats, take place according to schedule in March next year, a close aide of the president explained.

“That is what he is striving for now. He believes if Senate elections are held under the current setup according to the scheduled timing, nobody can stop him from winning another term,” said an official from the PPP, who is thought to be one of the closest allies of Zardari.

Senate elections, for which the provincial assemblies constitute the electoral college, are set to give the PPP a numerical strength close to a simple majority in the 100-seat upper house of parliament, if they are held under the current setup.

Members of the Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies vote to elect the president. The presidential elections are held on the one-man one-vote basis in the National Assembly and Senate.

But votes of the members of provincial assemblies are counted in proportion to the 65-member Balochistan legislature — an equation that would render the anticipated strength of PPP’s main opponent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Punjab almost irrelevant.

Political assessments and alignments

The PPP masterminds assessing the political situation on an almost daily basis believe there would be fierce competition in the general polls. Their view is that the difference in the number of seats between the PPP and the PML-N will be very small, though highly significant. Zardari already has a formula to swing numbers in his favour.

According to sources in the PPP, the president wants to secure a promise from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) that it would vote for him in the next presidential election in return for a proposed seat adjustment that the two parties were negotiating for Punjab for the next parliamentary polls.

A PML-Q leader also confirmed that supporting Zardari in his bid to seek another term was part of the PPP-PML-Q political alliance.

Zardari allegedly wants the same from his other allies including the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam to make sure that he grabs maximum votes from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well.

A threat no more

Regarding Sindh, the PPP’s strategists seem sure that the party will be in a comfortable position to bag a simple majority, riding on its popularity in the province and recent controversies that have hit its main rival in Karachi, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), according to the assessment by Zardari’s associates, could be managed “one way or the other”. In the past, there have been reports that members from the Balochistan Assembly and the tribal regions have been involved in voting in presidential election for ‘favours’.

“All these things put together can help Zardari win another term … and that is what he is hoping for,” said one of the officials.

According to an earlier report, the ruling PPP is contemplating an option to call fresh parliamentary polls immediately after the “crucial” elections for half the Senate seats scheduled for March next year.

The move, according to top party leaders, was being discussed in circles close to President Zardari.

One reason, sources added, for holding early elections was a “constant” fear in the ranks of the ruling party that the military might take advantage of the “extreme” political instability which would result if opposition parties managed to create “chaos on the streets”.

PPP Spokesperson Qamar Zaman Kaira was not available to comment regarding these revelations.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Ahmad
    Sep 26, 2011 - 11:03AM

    No comments.

    Recommend

  • Sep 26, 2011 - 12:11PM

    lets see how our current president render this out..Recommend

  • Sep 26, 2011 - 12:45PM

    I don’t know who has written this report but I don’t find anything substantial in this. We know since long that PPP is all focused on March Senate elections, the same has been discussed in this report. There’s nothing new in this. Recommend

  • saqib
    Sep 26, 2011 - 1:03PM

    good luckRecommend

  • Omair Shakil
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:07PM

    You just spelt out Pakistan’s worst nightmare. It makes me very, very, VERY sad to think that this might just happen. But I will do whatever I can in my capacity to prevent this from happening. I owe it to Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Hatim
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:12PM

    Musharraf thought he could clean-sweep the 2008 elections too…

    Recommend

  • irfan
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:26PM

    And which astrologer wrote this prediction.

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  • Kafka
    Sep 26, 2011 - 2:33PM

    Good news for mobile phone companies. Subject of billions of text messages for another five years.

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  • Still a pakistani
    Sep 26, 2011 - 3:04PM

    For God Sake….!

    Recommend

  • Maher
    Sep 26, 2011 - 3:23PM

    I fully agree with this report… He has a business mind, he will be there…Recommend

  • malik
    Sep 26, 2011 - 3:30PM

    PPP wins Senate polls. Zardari is reelected. PPP is back in the saddle. Then what?

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  • Usman
    Sep 26, 2011 - 3:45PM

    I hope not!

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  • Sep 26, 2011 - 5:17PM

    Why go for the longer path, when you can rig the elections? (Read: 35% bogus votes in Baluchistan only)

    Recommend

  • Aamir
    Sep 26, 2011 - 5:22PM

    Dirty power game.. I dont think that Pakistan will be on its feet by the end of their current tenure. They sucked every drop through their corrupt regime. Recommend

  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Sep 26, 2011 - 5:24PM

    Cool. Obama can learn a thing or two from our President.

    Recommend

  • Ali Hasan
    Sep 26, 2011 - 6:33PM

    Dear God, please don’t let this government return.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 26, 2011 - 7:04PM

    It would all be in the hands of our elected members of senate, national and provincial assemblies. Let them make the decision according to the wishes of the people who chose them. Democracy is a long and learning process and it has not even been 3 years. Each military dictator got more than a decade. Let us give democracy the same and fair chance before we predict the worst. Pakistani people are not insane like most elite think. Recommend

  • The Truth
    Sep 26, 2011 - 8:17PM

    BREAKING NEWS!!!!

    A politician wants another term! Seriously, how is this news. EVERY politician in EVERY Country wants to be reelected.

    Recommend

  • Faisel Hafeez
    Sep 26, 2011 - 8:37PM

    Our Constitution needs to be amended.
    A presidential form of Government suits more to our character.
    The President should be elected directly by the people, and not indirectly by the elected members in the parliaments.

    Recommend

  • Imran Swati
    Sep 26, 2011 - 10:47PM

    These all are just plans but I will say if zardari can be president while he has no intentions before 2008 then why he can’t be second time president while he has clear intentions and plans .
    In my mind the political senirio will be cleared after March 2012 .
    We Pakistani have to think positive and we are hopeful that Our next President and Prime Minister will be sincere , clean and brave mans Insha’ALLAH .

    Recommend

  • ali
    Sep 27, 2011 - 1:53AM

    Good luck Pakistan…

    Recommend

  • ayesha
    Sep 27, 2011 - 5:45AM

    @Faisel Hafeez:
    “Our Constitution needs to be amended.
    A presidential form of Government suits more to our character.
    The President should be elected directly by the people, and not indirectly by the elected members in the parliaments”

    Perhaps you have Imran Khan in mind and feel that it is possible that he could be elected President even if his party does not get makority seats. Fair enough. But in every stsrem – including the Presidential system in USA, there are checks and balance. If the Senate and Congress do not support the President, he cannot get any law passed – a situation that is being pognantly played out in the US where there is a gridlock.
    In the end, any democratic system has to represent a plurarity of stakeholders. If all powers are concentrated in just one person and there is no system of accountability, that is dicatorship not the Presidential system.

    Recommend

  • Faisel Hafeez
    Sep 27, 2011 - 3:28PM

    @ayesha:
    Your point of view is very well taken. I only briefly touched a subject which has to go through a lot of debate to arrive at a consensus.We have enough models all around us to pick the one that best suits the needs of a peaceful, vibrant, progressive and democratic Pakistan.
    Its time our collective focus should change from ‘Personality Cults’ to ‘Equitable Governance’,whose single focus should be the welfare of its citizens.
    I would never support any form of dictatorship, nor will I support this Sham Democracy.

    Recommend

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