Lahore: Weeks after being invited by Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari, the opposition PML-Q has decided
in principle to join the PPP-led ruling coalition but wants
MQM and JUI to be on board for setting up a "national
reconciliation government," sources said on Tuesday.
The PML-Q, which was formed with the backing of former
President Pervez Musharraf, has asked the PPP`s leadership to
take the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat
Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) on board for forming the "national
reconciliation government" for the security and prosperity of
the country, the sources said.
PML-Q chief and former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
conveyed to President Asif Ali Zardari, the head of
the PPP, his party`s conditions for joining the government.
Zardari had last month invited Chaudhry to join the
A senior PML-Q leader, who did not want to be named,
said: "If the MQM and JUI agree to come back to the PPP-led
government, our party has three demands - at least five to
seven ministries, a new post of Deputy Prime Minister or
Punjab`s governorship to be part of the new dispensation."
The PML-Q leader said an extensive exercise was
carried out within the party to solicit opinion on joining the
He said those in favour of the move said it would help
unite the PML-Q, which has been affected by the activities of
dissident leaders and lawmakers since last year. Most of the
dissidents are opposed to Hussain`s leadership.
The party leaders believed that getting important
ministries in a new federal set-up would help strengthen the
PML-Q and improve its bargaining position for the next general
election in 2013, especially in the rural areas of Punjab
where it already enjoys good support.
"In case elections are held to local bodies, the PML-Q`s
position will be better if we have some federal ministers or a
Governor (in Punjab). It will also help prevent influential
individuals from rural areas joining other political forces,"
said a report prepared after internal consultations in the
Those backing the idea of joining the PPP-led government
believe that seat adjustments with the PPP or other parties
will be easier to negotiate following such a move.
"After joining the government, the PML-Q can consolidate
its position and pose a big challenge to the PML-N. Our
dissident legislators will also start thinking about returning
to the party fold once they notice us getting on a strong
footing," the report said.
"If we do not join the PPP government, the PML-N will
give us a final blow in the next elections," the report quotes
a majority of PML-Q leaders as having said.
Those opposed to joining the government say the main
beneficiary of the deal will be the PPP, as it will have no
threat from any of its coalition partners or the opposition
during the remaining two years of its five-year term.
"The Q may lose its identity once it becomes part of
the PPP set-up. The (parliamentarians) failing to get
ministries may defect to other parties," the report said.
However, legal experts said it would not be possible
to create the office of Deputy Prime Minister without a
constitutional amendment which requires a two-thirds majority
A PPP leader said it would not be easy to pass such an
amendment given the current composition of the National
Assembly or lower house of Parliament.
The PPP, PML-Q, MQM and JUI have 130, 55, 25 and six
seats respectively in the 342-member National Assembly.
The opposition PML-N of former premier Nawaz Sharif
has 95 seats.
Political analysts said the PPP is contemplating a new
set-up as it wants to smoothly pass the upcoming budget,
likely to be presented in June.
The new arrangement could facilitate seat adjustments
among the PPP, PML-Q and MQM in next year`s elections to the
Senate or upper house of Parliament, they said.