Attitude adjustments

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There is a sudden change in MQM’s attitude towards its alliance with the PPP. Till recently, the party would invariably press for prior acceptance of its demands which it would put up at every crucial moment in return for its support to the government. It would press for revoking the rise in petroleum prices or disbanding the People’s Peace Committee set up by the Karachi PPP or the dismissal of Sindh Home Minister or the arrest of certain target killers before it would agree to attend a crucial National Assembly session or rejoin the cabinet. In most cases, it got what it wanted from a government that depended on MQM’s votes to survive. This time the MQM has agreed to join the cabinet simply in return for verbal undertakings from an Interior Minister who has an abysmal track record vis-à-vis the fulfillment of promises. Reason: with the PML(Q) joining hands with the PPP, the latter is no more worried about how to get the budget passed or power rates hikes or bag majority of seats in the Senate in March elections. The PPP would feel safe as long as most of the PML(Q) MNAs and Senators remain loyal to the Chaudhrys and vote for the government. The only question is: will they? There are already complaints among the Q League ministers of being sold for peanuts by their leadership. The addition of the MQM is meant to ward against any negative impact of further divisions in the PML(Q).

There are reports from the PML(N) quarters that the PML(Like-Minded) is going to join hands with them. The group comprises former ministers who feel that their political survival would be at risk unless they join a mainstream party. Having few supporters in the parliament and for that matter among the voting public, neither the PPP nor PML(N) has so far made a bid to acquire their services. The PML(N) must be haunted by a sense of extreme political loneliness if it is seeking their support now. Conversely the PML(N) could need them if it thought it was short of leaders. But is it?

As the elections approach, new alliances are likely to be formed. Besides making new alliances, the PPP and PML(N) would be better employed if they were to hammer joint policies to be followed by whosoever is in power.