Fazl digs in, Gilani contacts ‘Q’-likeminded


ISLAMABAD: After its efforts to woo Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman failed on Wednesday, the government, anticipating a similar shock from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has started hobnobbing with other political parties particularly the estranged groups of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) to keep the present dispensation going.
A four-member government team, led by Khurshid Shah, met Fazlur Rehman and requested him to reverse his decision and rejoin the coalition, but the JUI-F chief politely said “no”.
Following the JUI-F’s refusal, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani contacted PML-Q likeminded group leader Salim Saifullah and invited him for a meeting. After this contact, the likeminded group immediately called an emergency meeting of its steering committee in Lahore to discuss the matter. “A majority decided to stay in the opposition,” Saifullah told Pakistan Today. However, he did not say whether his group would support the PPP-led government in case the MQM too parted ways with it. “We will see when the time comes,” he said.
He said the government had so far not offered anything to the PML-likeminded. Saifullah said the steering committee had also decided in principle to vote against the reformed GST in the National Assembly.
The prime minister’s contact with the likeminded group is also being seen as an attempt to scuttle the efforts of the presidential camp to build bridges with the Chaudhrys. Though divided in three groups – the Chaudhrys-led group, the likeminded group and the unification bloc in the Punjab – the PML-Q leadership still has the legal authority and control over its parliamentarians to make them follow the party line in case of a vote of confidence.
Talking to reporters after the meeting with Fazl, Khurshid Shah said Fazl had refused to reverse his decision. “We have invited him to a dinner being hosted, by the president in honour of the Chinese prime minister on December 18,” he said, adding that the JUI-F had not been consulted on the sacking of ministers.Fazl told reporters that the government itself had axed the reconciliation theory. “The JUI-F’s partition decision itself speaks that it is irreversible. There is no second opinion among political parties on democracy and rule of law and we will continue working for the supremacy of democracy and constitution in the country,” he said.