ISLAMABAD: In what is being seen to be more a rhetorical lashing than anything else, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has given the already besieged PPP-led government an ultimatum following a key meeting of the party’s central leadership in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Announcing a nine-point agenda placed before the incumbents, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, in a press conference following the meeting, said that the government had 72-hours to respond, “yes or no”. This deadline was later extended by three days in the wake of the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
However, the PML-N did not speak of bringing a no-confidence motion against the government – nor did the other major party in the National Assembly the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Spearheaded by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani himself, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has for the last few days been in intense negotiations with the PML-N and PML-Q following the exit of two key coalition allies in the National Assembly – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamaat-e-Ulema Islam (JUI-F) – which caused the government to lose its majority in the house.
Despite the pressure by the PML-N, both it and the PML-Q on Tuesday indicated that they were in no mood to oust the government – at least not immediately.
The PML-N’s major demands include taking back of the decision regarding an increase in petroleum prices, getting rid of corrupt ministers and officials, curtailing unnecessary expenditures, appointment of independent members on vacant seats of the election commission and bringing a new accountability law.
“We are giving a three-day deadline to the government to respond on our nine-point agenda. If it agrees to these points it would have to implement this agenda in the next 45 days otherwise it will not remain in the Punjab government,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said after presiding a meeting of the central organising committee of the PML-N.
However after the assassination of Taseer, spokesperson of the PML-N, Ahsan Iqbal, said the deadline had been extended by three days.
Nawaz also said that if the government accepted this nine-point agenda, it would have to implement it by February 20. In case the government fails to do so, his party will put the same agenda before the opposition parties to muster their support, he added. Nawaz hinted that in a scenario where none of these two options worked out the only option would be to go to the masses for snap polls.
Meanwhile, the PML-Q has announced that it would not initiate any move to bring a no-trust motion against the PPP government and has thrown the ball in the PML-N’s court, saying that it is the Nawaz league’s responsibility to take the lead since it has the most number of seats in the opposition.
The PML-Q also held a meeting of its parliamentarians and came up with an almost similar demand set saying that they wanted improvement in governance.
Talking to media after the meeting, the Chaudhry brothers said it is up to the PML-N to prove itself as real opposition and bring a no-trust motion.
“We have 50 members while to move a no-trust motions against leader of the house support of 68 members is required. The PML-N has 90 members in the assembly so they should take the initiative,” president of the Punjab chapter of the Q-league, Pervez Ellahi, remarked without elaborating if his party would support the PML-N in case it brings a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Gilani.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.
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