LAHORE - The eight-month ‘deadlock’ between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has ‘blossomed’ into political wedlock of the two parties when two MQM ministers joined the Sindh cabinet after being administered oath by ‘Governor-Emeritus’ Dr Ishratul Ibad.
The PPP enjoys a clear majority in the 168-member Sindh Assembly and, therefore, has been running the province single-handedly after the May last year’s elections. But now the same functions will be performed jointly by the two coalition partners, which are the major entities of the province.
Was there really a need for the MQM to join the coalition? Will this step bring about any improvement in the government’s performance? Will the people of Sindh now face lesser problems than they have been facing so far? Will the law and order situation improve and the daily killings come down?
Observers don’t think that the PPP-MQM coalition will provide any relief to people. They even fail to speculate how the two parties joined hands despite the fact that workers and leaders of both parties were opposed to the coalition idea. Some say that personal contacts between Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Altaf Hussain brought the two parties together on the same platform.
Many, however, allege that the MQM without power is like a fish out of water. To stay in the corridors of powers it can make a compromises with any party, regardless of the latter’s manifesto or its actual performance. Maybe it’s so because the MQM itself has no consistent policy.
The MQM regards itself as part of the 98 per cent people who are ‘exploited’ by the two per cent elite. But in practice it has always joined hands with what it brands as exploiters. And although it has been part of almost all previous governments, it has not been able to bring even slightest improvement in the Sindh situation during the past decades. (The MQM has been working with the PPP, the PML-N and even the PML-Q).
The situation in the urban and rural areas of Sindh is as miserable at present as it was several decades ago. And it will remain unchanged even when the MQM will ‘quit’ the coalition at a later stage.
This being so, let’s try to examine the likely change in the situation after the MQM has joined the Sindh cabinet.
The PPP and the MQM have different views about the local government system that should be enforced in the province. There is a little chance of any change in their respective stances, as a result of which elections for the lowest tier of government are not discernible in the foreseeable future.
The MQM’s decision to join the government will weaken the role of the opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly. With the MQM as part of the coalition, the PML (Functional), the PML (N), the PTI and the National People’s Party will play the role of opposition, and since their position in the house is very weak, they will not be able to ruffle up the government. They can make noises, stage walkouts from the house but wouldn’t be in a position to influence the government decisions.
This means that with the MQM on its side, it will become further easier for the PPP to take arbitrary decisions.
At the federal level, however, the position will not change. The MQM, as before, will sit on opposition benches. This means that the ruling coalition will not be in a position to have any legislation passed from the Upper House unless it wins support from some other parties which are in the other camp.
As for the impact on the ongoing Rangers-led operation, it is said that the provincial government is unaware of what has been going on and there is no possibility of any change in the situation in the future. According to a senior observer, the captain of the team (Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah) is in the dark and doesn’t know what steps are being taken to combat the criminals and whether they would yield any results.
The situation will remain unchanged even after the MQM’s decision to join the cabinet, the observer said, pointing that more than 50 MQM people had gone missing over the past few months and nobody knew who abducted them and why.
Political circles say that the only change expected in the situation now is that the MQM will not be in a position to criticise the government. And this will bring some relief to the PPP – not the public at large.