Looking for greater gains

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But then this is politics

As the almost five-year long PPP tenure nears its end, two of its major coalition partners have started looking for new allies. When coalitions are made not on the basis of principles or common political programmes but purely to attain or retain power, this should not come as a surprise. The MQM and PML-Q provided the PPP the support that allowed it to remain in power despite it not enjoying a majority in the National Assembly. In return, the two extracted as much benefit as they could garner from sharing power. Now that elections are about to be held they feel free to choose new partners. The MQM tried hard to establish a base in Punjab or KP but failed. The PML-Q lost its erstwhile clout in Punjab after 2008. Both are keen to hitch a ride on what they see as an emerging juggernaut. Is it the proverbial magician’s wand that is bringing Tahir-ul-Qadri, Imran Khan and JI together?

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has expressed frustration over MQM’s decision to join Tahir-ul-Qadri’s march on Islamabad. He fails to understand why a party which is sitting in the government should become a part of “a conspiracy to delay elections and derail democracy in the country”. Fawwad Choudhry calls the decision “illogical” at a time when the country was entering into the election phase. But this is politics, not a game of chess played according to set rules.

Neither the MQM nor the PML-Q is coming out of the coalition. Not yet. They still want elections to be held on time. What they are presently doing is testing waters. It is not unusual to invent rationalisations for actions dictated in fact by personal or party needs. The MQM has suddenly discovered a soul mate it has been waiting for all this time in the form of Tahir-ul-Qadri. It is now itching to join the long march to put an end to “this feudal and outdated system”. It would be futile to point out that the party had not only been a part of the ‘system’, if by that it means the PPP rule, but also instrumental in sustaining it all these four years plus. The PML-Q too has “cogent reasons” for abandoning the PPP, if it is forced to. Didn’t it have similar reasons when it parted company with Nawaz Sharif? As a PML-Q leader has explained it, the PPP is leaving the field open for the PML-N in Punjab. Meetings to agree on joint candidates have not been called in violation of the agreement. The PPP has failed to address the grievances of its ally.

The MQM and PML-Q have multiple choices, including forming joint panels with their senior partner. The PPP has none other than yielding to their demands called ‘reservations’. Call it illogical, immoral, or anything else. But this is what politics is all about: the art of the possible.