Editorial : Changing alliances - Sunday, May 01, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=44569&Cat=8

Rumours that the PPP is linking up with the PML-Q have now materialised as fact. At a meeting between President Zardari and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain the contours of the deal, involving five ministries for the new alliance partner and other concessions such as seat adjustments for local government polls, were fine-tuned. PML-Q’s Faisel Saleh Hayat and the president are also locked in discussion. The agreement dramatically changes the political reality in the country. How things evolve will need to be observed closely over the coming months. Another meeting between President Zardari and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has been scheduled. Signs of tension within both the PPP and the PML-Q are also emerging, with the prime minister kept out of the talks with Shujaat Hussain and the apparent presence of some misgivings within the PML-Q, with regard to the deal. The purpose of the odd alliance between ideological enemies – just like the talk of dividing Punjab into two or more provinces – is obviously to hurt the PML-N. Preparations for polls seem to be underway and, as they begin, acrimony between the PML-N and the PPP also grows. This is not a good omen. The PM has invited the PML-N to help devise economic solutions, but this is hardly likely to happen in the present environment. We live in surreal times. The PM, in a speech to the National Assembly, astonishingly made little reference to the multiple crises that engulf us, indicating that all is well and that there is no need to worry. Mr Gilani must be a little out of touch with reality when he suggests that talks be reinitiated on the ten-point agenda set out by the PML-N in a final bid to make amends with its former ally. The PML-N is hardly likely to launch a new attempt to patch up with the PPP, especially as the link with the PML-Q is sealed.

Other emerging developments also tell of the realities we face. It is becoming clear that the PPP is planning to play the politics of legacy. President Zardari has said that Bilawal Bhutto will take on some political responsibilities later this year. The move seems to be a preparatory step for polls, and also indicates that the PPP has little to bank on except the Bhutto name. The party seems quite unable to move beyond the politics of dynasty. It remains to be seen how far it succeeds, given the situation the country finds itself in. The emergence of parties such as the PTI as stronger entities may also play a role in what happens at the ballot, with many people keen to see new leaders emerge. Meanwhile, tensions with the judiciary linger on. Whether or not Chaudhry Shujaat can help sort out matters is still uncertain. The strained relations between the government and the courts impede the smooth working of the system and add to the difficulties we face on so many fronts. They also influence a political climate already fraught with various dangers. Rapid changes in political line-ups continue to occur and the sense that we are stuck in a perpetual state of crisis does not go away. Economic disarray, the energy shortfall and poor governance combine to make the lives of people harder than ever, with no sign of change despite the insistence by the government that all is well.

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