LAHORE - Following a statement by PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari that Pervaiz Musharraf was conspiring to topple the Sindh government, question is being raised if the former president has that much leverage to make this happen and that too at a time when he is facing a treason trial.  

The answer seems to be in the affirmative. Despite being out of power, he still has control over actions of the MQM which has 51 members in a House of 168. His long association and friendship with President PPP-P Makhdum Amin Fahim, now at loggerheads with PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari, is well known. It is said that Fahim, whose son is a minister in Sindh cabinet, enjoys influence over a dozen members of the Sindh Assembly.   

The relations between the establishment and successive chiefs of Hur tribe are time-tested. The PML-F headed by Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, the 8th Pir of Pagaro, comes at number three position in Sindh Assembly with 11 members. Other opposition parties, National Peoples Party and PTI have two and four members each respectively. The PML-N with eight members is less likely to support the move. Though the ruling party in Sindh enjoys comfortable majority in the House with 91 members, the opposition alliance only needs 17 legislators to turn the tables on the PPP as 86 members make a simple majority needed to make or break a government there.

As per PPP sources, General Musharraf has tried to exploit the current rift between Asif Ali Zardari and Makhdum of Hala, Mr Amin Fahim to make up for the deficiency to topple the government. In return, he was reportedly offered the top slot of chief minister for his son, Makhdum Jamil Zaman.  

Political circles believe that despite statements to the contrary, all is not well between PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari and PPP-P head Makhdum Amin Fahim. The latter’s grievances against the leadership date back to 2008 when he was not considered for the primeminsitership despite his nomination by the slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto for this slot. Interestingly, it were his cordial relations with the then President Pervaiz Musharraf at that time which proved a stumbling block in the way of his elevation to the top slot. The PML-N, an ally of the PPP after 2008 elections, had opposed his nomination for being too close to General Musharraf.

After 2013 elections he wanted his son Makhdum Jamil  Zaman to be made Sindh chief minister but had to face disappointment this time too. Not only this, Zardari reportedly continued to ignore him in party matters.

On the occasion of party’s foundation day celebrations at Lahore last month, Amin Fahim minced no words when he complained to the PPP chief that he should not ignore senior party workers like him. Of late, a notification nominating Sherry Rehman as Vice-president of the PPP-P, the party which Makhdum heads for all practical purposes, was issued without his consultation. He also made a statement expressing annoyance over the development. But he was asked to make another statement stating that he was onboard when Sherry’s name for the said office was being considered, but he came to know about it after issuance of notification.

 The former President Pervaiz Musharraf along with PML-F chief Pir of Pagaro had a meeting with Amin Fahim last week to discuss ‘political issues’. The meeting set alarm bells ringing in PPP circles. Zardari sent his two trusted aides, Syed Khurshid Shah and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to woo back the Makhdum..

The people later heard from PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari that Musharraf was conspiring to topple the Sindh government in cahoots with some elements which he did not name. The allusion was towards the establishment which he believed might be backing the former army chief to do so. It was also an implicit reference to MQM, Pir of Pagaro and Amin Fahim, the other three suspected characters of the alleged move.