By Aijaz Ahmed
It is believed that the central government has prepared ‘Plan B’ to deal with any eventuality in case MQM finally refuses to rejoin the coalition and creates any law and order situation. The sources say that the government may resort to strong action, which may be contrary to the so far soft image of President Asif Zardari as the PPP may be losing patience with the ‘my way or highway’ attitude of the relatively immature ex-coalition party.
Teasers are already being sent to MQM, but at the same time, efforts to bring the ex-coalition partner back to the government’s fold are also underway, sources reveal. ‘Indeed Plan 'A' is to bring MQM back in the government’, sources told IH. Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Rehman Malik, and some common friends from UK are assigned the task.
The first priority to bring MQM back in the fold is mainly for two reasons, say insiders in the power corridors. The first reason is very obvious that government wants to avoid any confrontation and thus did not want to create an image that the leading party in the ruling coalition does not have ability to resolve the differences and thus unable to maintain relations with coalition partners.
Second reason is more interesting and strong according to the sources: the leadership of the ruling coalition according to the sources was astonished at the way the PML-N and MQM came closer, and the reaction of Imran Khan and other opposition forces. The inclusion of MQM in the opposition with PML-N and other parties may result in creation of stronger and vibrant opposition.
Grand opposition of PML-N, JUI-F, Jamaat i Islami, PTI, the Sindhi Nationalists and MQM embedded with a section of intelligence agencies can pose threats to the very survival of the elected government and also can assert more pressure on the President. The government - judiciary relations strengthen the view that all may not be well for PPP, Mr. Zardari and his allies if the grand opposition is allowed to come into existence, sources maintain.
There are also clear indications that a section of the intelligence agencies influenced by Hameed Gul mindset is providing some backing to Imran Khan and partly to PML-N as well, and this may lead towards disastrous end to the present set up.
MQM may be offered the seat of deputy speaker in the AJK Assembly along with a slot of advisor in AJK government. These offers will be apart from some concessions the party may be offered in Sindh once again. The MQM, according to the sources, intends to get some of its workers released, closure of few investigations and withdrawal of PPP’s stand on Municipal system in Karachi. The PPP wants to return to the previous system and remove existing 18 towns and restore commissionerate system in Karachi, Hyderabad and rest of Sindh, sources maintain.
Although the hopes of MQM’s return in the government's folds are very slim as according to the assessment of PPP hawks, Altaf Hussain and his party intends to make political inroads in Punjab, Pakhtoonkhwa and Kashmir and to get better results it has to be out of the government, adopt ‘Majha’ (macho) style of politics in Punjab and adopt harsh tone against policies disliked by the people.
Thus the PPP and PML-Q are chalking out the plan B. Functional League, The National peoples Party and few leaders of ‘Hamkhyal’ (like-minded) League are being approached and some new faces from all these forces may be included in the Sindh Cabinet if Ch Shujaat and Rehman Malik failed to get favorable results. However it may take more than 6 weeks.
|Sindh Interior Minister 'On Leave", Zulfikar Mirza|
The most important part of the Plan will be the top slots in Sindh. The name of Zulfikar Mirza is being mentioned for the position of CM and everybody is talking about his new role in Karachi and Islamabad.
|Ex-police official, Shoaib Suddle|
However the name of the new Governor of Sindh could be a surprise. Although Faisal Raza Abidi is being tipped as new Governor of Sindh for very obvious reasons, in the final count down he may not be the ultimate choice. Although he has abilities to give tough time to his arch rivals in Karachi and MQM, the man who can win the confidence of both the President and the Military Establishment, which is a settled norm when a governor is appointed, former police official Mr. Shoaib Suddle may be the elevated to the job. Mr. Suddle has a background of a successful action against terrorists in Karachi, majority of them was believed to be associated with MQM. He is also known to be honest and impartial but believed to have some grudges against MQM. He is also supposed to be close to the president.
Former IB Chief Mr. Masood Sharif could have been a natural choice for the post but he developed some differences with the president because of Rehman Malik sources said adding that Appointment of Mr. Wajid Durrani as IG Sindh Police is a clear indication in this regard. The Police and Rangers have been asked to mark people from MQM who according to the reports could make trouble in Karachi, but this time a direct action will be avoided only targeted action will be taken and only against all trouble making elements, but elements believed to have MQM connections will be on top of the list for which preparations are being made.
The party sources also maintain that the leadership wants a strong man in the Governor House Karachi having different background from CM Sindh, most probably from the Urdu speaking community, as has been the norm. Any other name may also come up in the race, but Mr. Saddle is the strongest contender for the slot at the moment, sources believe.