As Mr. Asif Ali Zardari reviews his political options and the PPP-PML(N) coalition takes shape, there are clear indications that the PPP is ready to work with President Musharaf rather than seek confrontation. "The ground reality is that we do not have two-thirds majority in both the houses of Parliament" that would be required for a successful impeachment, Mr. Zardari said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. The widower of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and leader of the party that won the most seats in parliamentary elections last week, said his coalition will be unable to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, and that he would instead seek a working relationship with the embattled leader.
As I said in my previous posts on post-election horse-trading and PPP's national character this recognition of "the ground reality" seems to be based on the following factors:
1. The PPP-PML(N) coalition lacks the two-thirds majority in both houses to impeach the President, as acknowledged by Mr. Zardari.
2. The outcome of the Feb 18 polls amounted to a split verdict: Together, the pro-Musharraf forces won the second largest number of seats after PPP.
Out of total votes cast, the former ruling coalition received 10,844,233 votes followed by PPPP with 10,055,491 votes and PML-N with 6,240,343 votes.
3. PPP's US patrons are urging Mr. Zardari to work together with Mr. Musharraf. It shoud be noted that the US sponsored the return of Mr. Zardari under an amnesty signed by Musharraf. The US senators who reportedly called for Musharraf's resignation yesterday have denied that report. They clarified that they asked Musharraf to "step back", not "step down".
I believe that it is in the best interest of Pakistan, its democracy and its economy for all the key players to move forward in a conciliatory manner and focus on the serious challenges ahead rather than waste energies fighting each other. The conciliatory course is the wisest course for Mr. Zardari as the senior partner in the new coalition. Let's hope that Mr. Zardari can persuade Mr. Nawaz Sharif to abandon his personal vendetta against Musharraf. This will be the first real test of the coalition being formed.
I see your point to some extent. May be a compromise is called for in the best interest of the country. However, how lasting any such deal could be is uncertain. I won't be very optimistic about a PPP-PML N coalition lasting and cooperating with Musharraf.
Any time there's a coalition, there's need for a delicate dance to avoid stepping on each other. It's going to be difficult, given the past record of animosity and recrimination among our political parties. As Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except the alternatives are even worse." If the coalition partners take it one step at a time, and show patience and maturity, it can work. Otherwise, Pakistan will be condemned to repeat its terrible history of failed governance and failed democracy.
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