In a quandary


The MQM’s return to the government fold has thrown the PPP in a quandary as it is facing problems in readjusting portfolios in the Sindh Cabinet while scrambling to appease all allies in the coalition. This is because the aspirants outnumber the ministerial slots.
There has been a series of meetings both in Islamabad and Karachi but the dispute remains unresolved. President Zardari had to step in after Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah failed to persuade the PML(Functional) ministers to resign from the portfolios they were allotted after the MQM had walked out of the coalition. Following Pir Pagaro’s warning to quit the provincial government if forced to acquiesce, the president gave up the option of handing back to Muttahida Qaumi Movement the ministries it previously held.
Meanwhile, the Sindh CM had to cancel a meeting with the coalition partners scheduled for Saturday after a similar message was conveyed to him by Ch Shujaat Hussain, who had played an important role in bringing the MQM back to the ruling coalition. Both factions of the Muslim League have expressed their reservations against the reshuffling of portfolios.
The dispute arose at a time when the PPP leadership was contemplating implementing the Supreme Court judgment concerning the law and order situation in Karachi. The court in its verdict had strongly criticised the Federal and Sindh governments for their failure to ensure peaceful economic activity in the country’s commercial hub while calling up on political parties to denounce criminal elements that had sneaked their way into their ranks.
As Mr Zardari has already issued instructions to the provincial administration to take appropriate measures aimed at containing lawlessness in Karachi, he needs to equally focus on resolving internal squabbling in the ruling coalition. The Sindh CM who currently holds over a dozen portfolios can save the coalition from falling apart once again by distributing some of them among the MQM members rather than annoying the allies.