Zardari has to cross more hurdles

By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Some dramatic political developments are about to unfurl to upset the calculated moves of different players as the PML-Q and the PML-N are preparing to join hands sooner than later while the unique Maulana of our politics — Fazlur Rehman — is preparing for anther somersault.

Asif Ali Zardari, who till Sunday was quite comfortable in the presidential race, has now certain hurdles to cross to clinch the top slot. Enraged for how it has been

dealt during the recent months by the PPP, the PML-N that has announced the respected former chief justice of Pakistan Justice (retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui as its presidential candidate, has already assigned Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Khwaja Asif to woo the PML-Q before it is hijacked by the other side — the Zardari House. Javed Hashmi also met Chaudhry Shujaat on Monday and discussed the future of the two Leagues.

Sources said contacts have already been established between the PML-N and the PML-Q for a possible rapprochement. Majority members of the PML-Q, including even the Chaudhrys, are inclined to side with the PML-N though both sides are desirous of face-saving for a re-union.

A senior PML-Q leader told this correspondent on condition of not being named that majority of the PML-Q is inclined to side with the PML-N while there are several who are desirous of joining the PPP. As the situation stands today, he said, the Q-League is all set to divide into two groups.

The PML-N is not only sure to secure its Punjab government with its re-union with the PML-Q but the things are also expected to dramatically change in the presidential elections. Syed Mushahid Hussain and Muhammad Ali Durrani of the Q-League had already desired to work with the PML-N even before the formal break-up of the coalition.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had extra-love for the PPP till Sunday, shocked the Zardari House on Monday by saying that it would be difficult for his party to go along with the PPP that had no respect for its words. The Maulana was referring to the breach of the PPP-PML-N agreement by Asif Ali Zardari. Interestingly, on Sunday the Maulana found fault with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, whom he considered inflexible and stubborn.

Change in the Maulana’s stance has raised some eyebrows. This development is seen as an indication of some hidden players’ possible move to block Zardari’s bid for the presidency. There are also reports that the JUI-F is considering fielding its own presidential candidate.

The response of Fata MNAs and senators to Zardari’s candidacy would also be interesting to note if the PPP leader would have a smooth sailing or he would find himself in really hot waters. Munir Khan Orakzai, senior Fata MNA, told this correspondent that Fata senators and MNAs would take their decision on Aug 29. He said the Fata MPs have not given their word to Asif Ali Zardari or to any other candidate. He also made it clear that being in association with the ruling coalition did not mean the Fata MPs would vote for the PPP’s candidate.

The PPP co-chairperson, whose decision to become the president of Pakistan has generally been criticised by the media, has never been in the good books of the country’s establishment. According to a PPP source, it would be interesting to note if the establishment would remain neutral in the presidential election.

A meeting of this correspondent with a PPP MP on Monday clearly indicated that in case of Zardari’s election there would possibly be certain deceptions within the PPP. While the PPP CEC unanimously endorsed Zardari’s candidature but there are many in the party for whom it is really hard to digest to see Asif Ali Zardari as the president of Pakistan. Secret balloting for the presidential poll, it is said, would harm the PPP candidate for the presidency.
The News, 26/8/2008

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