Mar 24, 2009

Lines of friendship

The post-long march shape of the political set up is now beginning to take shape. The possibility of a new era of PPP-PML-N cooperation was laid out at the Raiwind estate of Mian Nawaz Sharif, where PM Yusuf Raza Gilani lunched in considerable style after receiving a quite obviously enthusiastic welcome from PML-N leaders. Mian Nawaz Sharif has however made it clear that any formal arrangement will be possible only after the verdict on the review petition questioning the disqualification of himself and Shahbaz Sharif. The indications are that the PML-N government in Punjab may soon be restored. The development also means that the PML-Q has effectively been left out in the cold once more. Governor Salmaan Taseer’s plan to set up a PPP-PML-N coalition government has come to naught. The PML-Q, in an act of pretence that will fool nobody, now insists it was not interested in power in the first place. There are also other ramifications to all this. The PML-N chief has made it quite clear that while he is willing to work with Mr Gilani, he has differences with President Zardari. The PPP then is quite obviously being seen as an entity with two heads; a kind of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde identity. It has yet to be seen if they will choose to pull in opposite directions, and if so, how strongly.The success of his latest round of talks mean that Mr Gilani continues to gain in poise and confidence, emerging as a leader who stands beyond the shadows of the presidency. This too could prove immensely significant in the days ahead. There is a great likelihood that Mr Zardari is not too pleased. The PM has indicated that his next priority is to assert the supremacy of parliament. He is almost certain to have in this the support of the PML-N. Other allied groups, such as the ANP, may too now join hands to undo provisions in the Constitution that create a dichotomy in power and award the presidency the right to dissolve assemblies. There is, then, a possibility that things may work out towards a brighter future. The key to this is restoring the full sovereignty of parliament and ending a system where decisions are made by a small coterie of individuals, many of them with vested interests.

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