LAHORE – The two major coalition partners of PPP from the Punjab and Sindh have advised President Asif Zardari to relinquish the party office to avoid clash with the state institutions and the opposition forces, keeping in view the next general elections.

However, the third partner from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has left the matter to the PPP leaders to decide whatever they deem necessary over the issue of holding the two offices by Asif Ali Zardari. Insiders in the ruling coalition privy to the developments regarding the matter told this correspondent on Saturday that senior alliance leaders have told PPP that Asif Zardari is more important for the future of the coalition in the presidency than in the party office and any close aide of the co-chairperson could replace him to oversee the party’s political affairs.

The insiders, quoting senior coalition leaders, say the PML-Q high command has asked the president to surrender the party office, proposing that Faryal Talpur could be a good option for heading the office of the PPP co-chairperson. They add the MQM leadership, supporting PML-Q, is of the view that Asif Ali Zardari will prove more important for the coalition in the presidency than in the co-chairperson office.

However, the ANP has left the matter with the PPP leadership, saying they will back whatever decision is taken by the PPP top command over the issue of holding the two offices by Asif Ali Zardari. When contacted, several senior leaders of PML-Q, MQM and ANP declined to comment on the matter. However, PML-Q Federal Minister Sheikh Waqas Akram, expressing his personal opinion, proposed the president should quit the party office as the fast changing situation demanded his presence in the presidency and any loyalist of Zardari in the PPP could assume the office of the co-chairperson.

When asked about Faryal Talpur, he remarked that she was already supervising the political matters of her brother and had the potential to handle the matters with the coalition partners as well. Senior ANP leader Zahid Khan, when asked, said it was the prerogative of the PPP leadership that Asif Ali Zardari surrendered the party office or the presidency. He said coalitions were forged on a minimum common agenda and it was the sole right of the PPP to decide the fate of the two offices of their top leader. He contended that it was not written in the constitution that the president could not hold the party office.

The puzzled coalition partners have expedite their efforts over the issue of the two offices held by Asif Ali Zardari after the Lahore High Court direction in a petition against his two offices.