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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back Door Diplomacy Between PPP-PML-N Begins! Nawaz Wants Foreign Guarantees if a Deal is Struck!

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad:  Pakistan is an unbelievable place where anything, even something beyond one’s wildest imaginations is possible, but the political arena of the country plays wonders beyond anyone’s comprehension. The politics of Pakistan throughout history has proved to be a game in which many impossible tasks have been made possible. 

Indeed no politician closes his or her doors ever, but in a scenario where biggest opposition party apparently closed all venues for the government and seemed busy in making a grand alliance to achieve a goal of toppling the sitting government, it looks impossible that it would begin back door contacts with that very targeted opponent. However, the wonder happens again in the country’s politics and an indirect contact between the leader of the opposition party, the PML-N and President Zardari has been established, sources in the political circles have confirmed.

Measurable progress has been achieved in the indirect contacts between the two arch rival parties, sources claimed adding that this time no formal agreement will be signed if any understanding is reached.

Sources claimed that when all venues were closed, death of Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari provided a chance for ice breaking, and then the presidency made sizable progress through one of its stalwarts.
Farhatullah Babar
Farrhatullah Babar, spokesman of the president was main source for the reinstatement of the contact, sources maintained. He was the one who delivered messages of the president till he left for England last week.  However, he is not alone as few non political but common friends of both the President and Mian Nawaz Sharif, one of whom lives in England and the other in UAE, intervened during the recent days and brought the initial contacts forward, sources claim.

MNS still has faith in Farhatullah Babar as he is known as a man of principles and happened to be a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed. He was also among those who finalized Charter of Democracy during the good old days when BB and MNS were staying at London in 2007.

FB commands respect even among PLM-N hawks and thus he succeeded in making some progress from PPP side, while Ishaq Dar and Khwaja Asif were the main people from PML-N side who despite losing opposition leader’s elections in the Senate helped the gray haired senior from PPP side, sources observe.

MNS is reported to have put some conditions for future cooperation, and survival of the current Punjab government is not included in his conditions, sources maintain; perhaps for the reason that the security of the Punjab and central government will automatically come in as a result of the dialogue.

MNS intends a totally trustworthy caretaker set up whenever the President announces a general election. He has asked for an equal share in the caretaker set up, and names will be given at later stage when the formula will be agreed, sources said adding that the next demand made by MNS is no further move on Siraiki province by PPP.

The MNS clearly demands that PPP will not make Siraiki province an issue during the next election campaign as it irritates his constituency in the country, and also may damage his traditional seats in the Siraiki belt, sources observe.

The next condition is subject to an agreement between the two arch rival parties and that is about NA seats in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, beside consensus on some Senate Seats, sources maintain.

Although the discussion is at initial stage, but rapid development is expected as both PPP and PML-N have no time to lose. President wants an early settlement in the wake of coming general elections and Nawaz is also mounting pressure on the government for the same reason.

PML-N and other opposition parties do not want PPP to get two third majority in the Upper House of the Parliament in coming elections, thus the later is mounting pressure and moving fast with calculated moves. The PPP on the other hand feels under pressure and clearly felt shaky as it has strong impression that the grand alliance move has some intelligence backing, thus is trying to develop political understanding with major opposition party.

Although removal of Punjab government is still on cards, everybody takes this new move as a legitimate political initiative sources said but PML-N certainly eyes next elections. The party has no significant presence in KPK, has no seat from Sindh and won only one Pakhtoon seat from Balochistan. The second seat of former Governor and corps commander Lt. General Abdul Qadir was won later as Election Commission had declared him elected as an independent member and then he had joined PML-N.

MNS seriously feels that few seats were lost in all three provinces because of PPP and thus he is making demand for cooperation on these seats so as the stature of a national party is restored.

The most important part of the parlays will be the guarantees, and MNS wants no formal agreement like the previous ones, but he demands foreign guarantors so as Asif Zardari could not break his promise.

Although the discussion is at early stage, an understanding is expected between the two main rival parties as it is the only way that will enable both PPP and PML-N to complete their tenures in the governments, sources maintain. 

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