MQM’s departure leaves ruling PPP at mercy of ‘cornerstone’

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The MQM’s departure from the provincial and federal coalition governments in protest of the postponement of AJK election in Karachi has left the ruling PPP at the mercy of PML-Q.
The PML-Q has become the cornerstone of the PPP government and a little shift in PML-Q strategy can now shatter the dreams of President Asif Ali Zardari to keep things at the political front smooth, at least until the next senate elections in March 2012. Though the government still enjoys a comfortable majority in the House with 213 members on its sides and 128 on opposition benches, the MQM’s decision has strengthened the opposition in both Houses of parliament and made the biggest PPP ally, PML-Q, very much indispensable for the government. A little manoeuvring from the PML-Q can set the wheels in motion for mid-term polls, which the opposition is pressing for.
After the MQM’s departure from the government, statistics show that the government enjoys support of 213 members in the House. The government side comprises of PPP (127 votes), independents (16 votes), ANP (13 votes), PML-F (5 votes), BNP-A (1 vote), NPP (1 vote) and PPP-S (1 vote).
The government main ally, PML-Q has 50 members in the House, however; one of its members, Awais Leghari has opted to sit on the opposition benches.
The opposition consists of the PML-N with 92 seats, the MQM with 25 seats, the JUI-F has eight seats and two independent MNAs, Maulvi Asmatullah and Akhtar Khan Kanju, are also sitting on opposition benches. In Senate as well, the government enjoys majority but only with a little margin. The MQM’s walk towards the opposition has increased the strength of opposition benches to 44 in a House of 100 members.
Noted political expert Dr Rasool Bux Raees said MQM’s departure would have grave impact on the ability of the government to achieve a degree of stability. He said with the MQM in the ranks of the opposition, the government would face a robust opposition. He said the MQM decision was a form of agitation which could even paralyse the federal government.
Raees said it was not politically gainful for the MQM to enter into some formal alliance with other opposition parties, but they could informally coordinate with them to launch a protest campaign against the government which, he added, would limit the PPP-led government only to Islamabad.
Raees said President Zardari had underestimated the power of MQM.