Will rifts among allies brew distrust in the centre? | The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:

The anticipated unease and friction in the ruling coalition showed its tentacles on Monday over the local government elections in Sindh as MQM-P and JUI-F, among others, rejected results of Sindh LG poll results and accused PPP of rigging.

The violence-plagued contest convulsed into the coalition government’s seemingly most bitter rift when major allies of the PML-N government vowed to take the matter to the ECP while the PPP rejoiced at its victory, unfazed the allegations of rigging.

The emerging cracks have also threatened to spread to the centre as the allies decide to raise their reservations with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who thrives on the unity of the rainbow coalition.

Senior MQM-P leader Wasim Akhtar accused the province’s ruling party of violating the agreement pertaining to respecting parties’ mandates and alleged that PPP stole MQM-P’s mandate in the first phase of Sindh’s LG elections.

Read more: MQM-P warns PPP of ‘taking own decisions’ if promises not fulfilled

A senior leader of MQM said that the party would meet ECP officials on Tuesday (today), adding that the reservations have already been conveyed to PPP leadership over the lapses on part of the Sindh government.

Meanwhile, Akhtar threatened that MQM-P would not allow holding LG polls in Karachi and Hyderabad if its reservations were not addressed, adding the party would take to the streets if PPP continues to violate its agreement earlier signed about local government, respecting each other’s mandate and recruitment policy in Sindh to the local policing system, among other things.

Similarly, JUI-F’s Rashid Soomro while rejecting the results of by-polls urged the prime minister to take notice of the situation and reminded that PML-N could gather up reins of the centre owing to the support extended by JUI-F and MQM-P. He warned things shouldn’t be pushed to the point where the allies were forced to withdraw their support.

Soomro while announcing a long march against the Sindh government said that the party would also deliberate on its alliance in the centre and see if it should continue to be a part of the government whose major ally was rigging the election in Sindh and beating up JUI-F’s workers.

He revealed that he has updated JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman about the whole situation and the party was ready to launch a movement against the Sindh government just like it did against former premier Imran Khan’s government.

He said that the protest would continue till the people of Sindh get rid of the provincial government and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

He said JUI-F workers and supporters would protest outside ECP’s regional offices on Tuesday.

PPP gives nonchalant shrug

Meanwhile, PPP leaders rejected the allegations of rigging and claimed elections were fair, adding if anyone had any reservations then they could go to ECP.

Countering the allegations levelled against the party, the leader said that PPP workers were also attacked in different districts, adding that JUI-F and MQM-P and others were happy about the areas where they have won and harboured reservations about places they have lost.

Simultaneously, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led government felt the heat from some other allies too as Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and an independent MNA, Aslam Bhootani, also expressed severe reservations on the treatment meted out to them.

BAP’s MNAs Khalid Magsi and Bhootani lashed out at the government in the National Assembly over its conduct with the allies, warning that the government had an edge of only two votes in the assembly and rudeness didn’t suit it in the current scenario.

In his speech, Magsi questioned the whole process of ousting the PTI-led government, saying it seemed the purpose was to just oust them from power and enjoy the perks and privileges instead of focusing on any bigger goals.

Read: MQM-P expresses concern over ‘no progress’ on agreement with PPP

Commenting on the distribution of the portfolios among the coalition partners, Magsi said that BAP has so far been given only one ministry and decisions were being taken without taking them on board.

When needed against the PTI government, he said, the incumbent rulers would visit them but were now not even ready to see their faces, stressing that things should be corrected as the alliance was only in its third month and things were not smoothly working.

Bhootani also expressed displeasure over the ruling party’s conduct, saying he joined the PML-N coalition after Zardari approached him. Bhootani swore that he was happy with the PTI government as PTI provided development funds of billions of rupees which, he said, have been slashed by planning minister Ahsan Iqbal.

In the NA, he reminded the ruling party that it had just two more votes than required to show a simple majority, saying PML-N wouldn’t have bothered to listen to anyone had its simple majority was of 10 votes.

The speeches on the floor of the House had a swift impact as Federal Minister for National Food Security Tariq Bashir Cheema, Magsi, Bhootani, Rubina Irfan and Ehsan Ullah Reki called on the prime minister right after the NA session was adjourned till Tuesday.

Later, PM Shehbaz addressed his party MNAs as well as allies during a dinner hosted for them and spoke about the economic condition of the country and how the coalition government escaped default in the face of IMF’s tough conditions.



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