Sunday, March 9, 2008

PPP Infighting Becomes Public

As the headlines in Pakistan proclaimed the formation of the PPP-PML(N) coalition at a summit meeting between Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, there were obvious signs of rift emerging within the PPP. Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the PPP leader who faithfully guided the party during Beanzir Bhutto's self-imposed exile, told the news media that he was not invited to join the negotiations with PML(N) nor was he present during the announcement. In fact, he learned of the news through the media reports. While still maintaining his loyalty to the party, he was clearly agitated by this development.

There have also been reports of Sind-Punjab tussle on the choice of the prime minister within the PPP. In the Geo News show ‘Who would be the prime minister’, Makhdoom Amin Fahim said that the prime minister should be from Sindh and he was the candidate for this post. He said that he was a senior member of the party.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari had also offered him the PM slot.

On the other hand, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar insisted that the PM should be from Punjab. He also claimed to be a senior member of the party, as his family's had a long association with the Bhutto family since 1967. He also challenged that Makhdoom Amin Faheem was ever offered to become PM. Other names that have been mentioned are Raja Mahmood Qureshi and Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.

The fact that Mr. Zardari has chosen to make deals with other parties without Mr. Fahim's participation is the clearest indication yet that Amin Fahim is either out of the running for the position of prime minister or, that he would not be fully empowered even if he gets the nod from Zardari. The real power will, in fact, continue to be in the hands of Mr. Zardari.

This is clearly an inauspicious beginning for the PPP and the new coalition. It calls into question Zardari's intentions and personal ambitions. It raises issues such as how the PPP unity can be maintained in the absence of an adult Bhutto at the head of the party. It also creates doubts about the durability of any coalition arrangements with other parties. This situation is likely to strengthen President Musharraf's position in dealing with the new civilian government.

1 comment:

Riaz Haq said...

Since I wrote this post, new reports have emerged in the press indicating that Mr. Asif Zadari has decided to take the prime minister's position himself as soon as he can get elected to the parliament in a special election. Until then, a temp will fill the PM position. It basically confirms my suspicions about Mr. Zardari's personal ambition. It'll be interesting to see how this works out with the rest of PPP leadership.