Nawaz won’t budge on ultimatum

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LAHORE – As the PML-N’s ultimatum to the PPP nears expiry on January 10 (Monday), the party is all set to oust the PPP from the Punjab government if it fails to come up with a positive answer to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s 11-point charter of demands presented on January 4.
Of the 11 demands, the government has accepted just one by withdrawing the hike in petroleum prices.
The PML-N issued a three-day ultimatum to the government for the acceptance of its demands that was to end on January 7. However, the deadline was extended for another three days due to the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
The countdown for the ultimatum now starts today and will end on Monday.
Nawaz has said if a positive reply was not received, the PML-N would oust the PPP from the Punjab government on Monday, come what may.
Responding to Law Minister Babar Awan’s statement that the PPP would consider the agenda after the expiry of the deadline, Nawaz said it was a prerogative of the PPP government to either say yes or no.
“The agenda of reforms is not my personal or individual agenda, rather it represents what the people demand, therefore, if the PPP turns it down, it would be most unfortunate for the country,” he said.
Nawaz said in case of a negative answer, the PML-N would adopt the best path to get its agenda implemented. He announced that agenda of reforms would be the manifesto of the party in the next elections and the PML-N would put the same into practice if it came into power.
The PML-N chief said the party presented a shorter form of the agenda instead a broader one, as it knew the PPP’s strength.
“Moreover, no such point has been showcased in the agenda that may reflect personal vendetta,” he maintained.
PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid told Pakistan Today that his party was framing out a final strategy to exclude the PPP from the Punjab government in case it failed to welcome the PML-N agenda.
“We will request the PPP ministers to quit the cabinet voluntarily. However, if they decline, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif has discretionary powers to reconstitute the cabinet or expel them from the cabinet,” he said.
Rashid said if the PPP still remained hell-bent to sit on treasury benches in Punjab Assembly, the government would have nothing to do with it.
The PML-N’s ultimatum came at a time when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was scrambling to keep his government alive after losing his majority in parliament with departure of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement from the coalition government.
However, the MQM on Friday agreed to rejoin the coalition government, and the PPP government’s position now stands much more balanced.
Meanwhile, the PML-Q forward bloc has also sprung into action amid speculations that the PPP would side with the PML-Q if the Punjab CM ousts PPP ministers from his cabinet.