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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pakistan’s Premier Fights to Save Government

Prime Minister of Pakistan Yusuf Raza Gilani was struggling to congregate support for his Government on 5th January, a day after a second ally renounced the ruling coalition with his Pakistan Peoples Party. But at a time when the economy is shaking, public discontent is growing over inflation and a worsening power crisis, and the United States is seeking to expand cooperation in the war against terrorism, no political party looks keen to take the reins of the government.
So there seemed to be growing consensus amongst opposition politicians and analysts here that Mr. Gilani would remain in office despite the crisis, but would be deeply weakened and even more unable to govern this fractured and tumultuous country.
President Asif Ali Zardari, who is the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, issued a strongly worded statement of support for Mr. Gilani that Government will complete its 5 years tenure. He also said that the prime minister is not alone; he will not be left alone. The People’s party (PPP) stands behind him through thick and thin. Let there be no qualm or gaffe about it.
The two parties that have left the coalition at the federal level are the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM),, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal. The first left late on 4th January, the second last month. But both remain in coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Sindh and Baluchistan provincial governments, leading analysts and politicians to wonder that both are mainly focused on trying to extract indulgence. Only the Jamiat has claimed Mr. Gilani’s resignation. 
Leaders of M.Q.M. stressed that the government had done nothing to improve deteriorating economic conditions and urged the government to take immediate steps to alleviate rising fuel prices and other domestic burdens.
As part of Mr. Gilani’s efforts to avert a no-confidence vote in Parliament, he held talks with Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab Province and the younger brother of the opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Officials of Mr. Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, say that they are proceeding cautiously as the political crisis unfolds.  Mr. Gilani also met Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid political party, which is the next largest opposition party. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, a leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal, reiterated his party’s demand on Monday that Mr. Gilani quit, saying he no longer had a majority in the Parliament.

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