A really Catch-22 situation?
A really Catch-22 situation? By Syed Abid Gillani
The already in deep crises coalition government is likely bracing for another setback in shape of simmering differences among the junior coalition partners—Muttahida Qoumi Movement and Awami National Party—-over the Karachi unrest and PPP’s intention to let the hands of MQM on Home Ministry, one of its longstanding demand, could trigger political turmoil which could provide base for wrapping up of the incumbent political dispensation.
In the light of the background interviews with leaders of both these parties, who are having divergent viewpoints on Karachi issue, and information given by the sources in PPP, MQM was demanding the portfolio of Sindh Home Ministry for quite sometime as they were not comfortable working with once President Zardari’s buddy Zulfiqar Mirza and later with Manzoor Wasan, and both of them were forced out by the party leadership just to pacify the fuming MQM.
Currently, the Home Ministry was with docile Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah but the fresh wave of target killing in the port city was not coming to an end, providing MQM opportunity to once again press for their demand of having Home Ministry under their thumb. But on the other hand Awami National Party another coalition partner of the PPP both in Federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa governments would not accept this decision at any cost and one of the ANP leader even go to the extend by saying that they could quit the coalition if such a move was made by the government.
ANP was having serious reservations about MQM and on a number of occasion they had even demanded handing over the law and order control of the port city to Armed Forces as they believed that in the presence of highly politicized police force and Rangers with limited powers law and order situation in the restive city could not be established.
Some insiders in the PPP informed that during his visit to Nine Zero the newly elected Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Asharf had given a tacit understanding to the MQM leadership that government would consider their demand of handing over the law and order control of Karachi to them, the point which had annoyed the Pashtuns settlers and their leaders who could not accept this at any cost.
The Prime Minister’s undermining of ANP in comparison with MQM had also annoyed the provincial leadership former and that was the reason Senator Shahi Syed refused to come over to Chief Minister House Sindh for meeting with Prime Minister.
On the other hand Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf not only visited Nine Zero but also besides meeting Rabita Committee members and giving them assurances on various issues, patiently listened to the telephonic address of MQM Quaid Altaf Hussain for well over 40 minutes.
The reaction from ANP was quick and the very next day the central information secretary of the party Senator Zahid Khan came up with the scathing criticism on the Prime Minister for unprecedented load-shedding in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and demanded of him to focus all his attention and energies on resolving this issue.
Political observers were of the view that PPP could not afford to lose any of its coalition partners at least for next few months and by the time they would roll into the process of installation of the caretaker government.
Sources in the ANP said that they would not let PPP to impose MQM on their heads in port city and would oppose any move of giving the portfolio of Home Ministry to them as this move would further aggravate the law and order situation instead of bringing some solace to the Karachiites, who are the ultimate loser in what is going on in Karachi.
ANP leadership once again demanded calling in of Armed Forces to take care of the law and order situation in the port city and without naming MQM said that when the killers and looters and plunders are having the patronage of people sitting in the government how peace and order could be restored there.
On the other hand MQM, which was tactfully, handled by President Zardari, in the current crisis befallen the government after the disqualification of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as chief executive of the country, is once again out to extract maximum from the crises-stricken government by arm twisting before the next general elections, while the other stakeholders in Sindh and particularly in Karachi are also not ready to concede ground. And in this Catch-22 situation it would be seen how the PPP would manage the things or they would lean toward the big stakeholder, MQM, or would strike some balance in all the stakeholders in the port city or they would keep the things hanging in balance till the next general elections like they had done over the past four and a half year in power.