PPP-PML-Q cooperation promises new era of politics in Gujrat

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With the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) now set to join ranks at the Centre, their newfound political cooperation promises a new streak of more friendly and reconciliatory politics, free of the age-old animosity that once characterised their relations, at the local level, especially in Gujrat.
The credit for the rapid turnaround must go to the leadership on both sides for selling the idea – and selling it well – of political cooperation with each other, even to such leaders in their respective parties for whom peaceful co-existence between the two parties, and indeed the two political dynasties, was once unthinkable.
Sources in the PPP disclosed that President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the co-chairman of the ruling party, very tactfully brought around opponents of the idea of cooperation with the PML-Q to eventually supporting his cause, ensuring them separately that their political interests would be guarded at all cost. PPP leaders believe one fine example of President Zardari’s deft touch to be the way he won over leaders such as Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Qamar Zaman Kaira, the major stakeholders in the local politics of Gujrat, and others who could have damaged the party by taking a stand against Zardari’s new political pursuits.
As part of a power-sharing arrangement at the local level, Zardari has offered Mukhtar a Senate ticket in case of an alliance with the PML-Q in future elections. “The party leadership has in its mind similar offers for all those who could be politically hurt by the new alliance, from the very start,” said a PML-Q leader. Sources said that Mukhtar has been vulnerable to political influences from outside the PPP. In the past, Shahbaz Sharif made a serious attempt to woo Mukhtar using his connection with Ahmad Saeed, Mukhtar’s brother.
“So handling Ahmad Mukhtar, a long history of rivalry with the Chaudhrys, contesting consecutive elections against Chaudhry Shujaat, and pacifying him given his relations with the Sharifs, is a big achievement by President Zardari,” a PPP leader commented.
Similarly, Kaira, another PPP leader with high stakes in local politics, Gujrat in particular, finds himself in a win-win situation in the emerging political scenario. Kaira already has publicly declared that he will abide by every decision of the party.
“I won’t mind even if the party does not give me ticket. Even that is acceptable to me if the party is to gain from its alliance with the PML-Q,” he said in a recent TV interview. The Chaudhrys appreciated his gesture. They do not even want to field any of their party-men against Kaira in future elections, which they have conveyed to him through mutual friends. The family supported by the Chaudhrys in the past in Lala Musa is no longer active in politics to challenge Kaira anymore. The Chaudhrys’ support for Kaira in future elections will work wonders for the PPP leader and for his family’s political fortune.
Other leaders such as Sahibzada Ghazanfar Gul, another opponent of the Chaudhrys, have little say in the decision-making process, and the PPP does not give much weight to their opinion. Reportedly, Gul has been contacted by the PML-N leadership. Even the Chans of Mandi Bahauddin and other second-tier PPP leaders have little or nothing against the PML-Q-PPP alliance. Likewise, the Chaudhrys also deserved credit for keeping their party leaders, once against the idea of cooperation with the PPP, well under control.
They convinced every party leader who could have opposed the idea, and for first time in the party’s history initiated an elaborate consultation in the party, and in the process brought on board not only party grandees and heavyweights, but also every other stakeholder. Party leaders felt obliged in the process, and are overwhelmingly satisfied to find the PML-Q’s stars on the rise once again. No wonder the likes of Faisal Saleh Hayat, who was once the biggest opponent of PPP-PML (Q) cooperation, is now sitting pretty, and is seen at all party consultations.
More surprisingly, the Legharis, too, see no harm in pursuing cooperative relations with the PPP despite their strained relations with the Bhutto family, and are almost completely onboard. All MNAs were agreeable, all district nazims approved, and all provincial presidents were gunning for the union as well, said a PML-Q leader privy to recent developments. “People like Marvi Memon need one patient hearing from the Chaudhrys before she will also be onboard,” he added. “People like Tariq Azeem have no standing in the party given their somersaults and tilt towards the Sharifs.”
Meanwhile, a TV channel reported that both parties have already agreed upon modalities for Gujrat. According to the understanding reached, in the next elections both parties would field two candidates each for the four National Assembly (NA) seats, and each NA candidate would look after their coalition partner contesting the election for a Punjab Assembly seat.

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