Gilani, Shahbaz differ on sharing power in Pakistan’s Punjab

May 5th, 2009 - 11:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, May 5 (IANS) The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that heads the ruling federal coalition and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that rules Punjab Tuesday failed to come to an understanding on sharing power in the province.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who met Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, offered to jointly form the government in Punjab but no agreement could be arrived at, Geo TV reported, quoting sources.

Other sources said Sharif’s message to Gilani was that the PML-N would welcome the PPP’s support but would not offer it any ministerial berths.

At the same time, Sharif assured the prime minister of the PML-N’s continued support to the federal coalition even as it sat in the opposition.

The PPP and the PML-N, after their one-two finish in the February 2008 general elections, had formed the federal coalition while the PML-N had formed the government in Punjab with the PPP help.

However, differences soon emerged over reinstating the Supreme Court and high court judges then president Pervez Musharraf had sacked after declaring an emergency in November 2007 and on other issues.

The PML-N then exited from the federal coalition and asked the PPP ministers to quit the Punjab government as the PML-N claimed it had the support of some Independents and dissidents from Pakistan’s erstwhile ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).

Matters came to a head in May 2008 when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the PPP co-chair appointed his trusted lieutenant Salman Taseer as the Punjab governor with the avowed aim of toppling the PML-N dispensation and form its own government with the help of PML-Q, which has been sending feelers to the PPP leadership.

However, before Taseer could get his act together the Supreme Court in February cited corruption charges to bar Sharif, as also his elder brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, from contesting elections or holding public office.

This led to Shahbaz Sharif losing his job and governor’s rule being imposed in Punjab.

The elder Sharif then jumped onto the bandwagon of a lawyers’ “long march” to Islamabad to demand the reinstatement of the sacked judges.

After initially standing firm, Zardari caved in March 16, the day the protesters reached Islamabad. The judges were restored and the government agreed to appeal to the Supreme Court judgment on the Sharif brothers.

The apex court last month stayed its previous order and Shahbaz Sharif got his job back.

In between, Gilani and Nawaz Sharif met for lunch to discuss the possible return of the PML-N to the federal coalition and a similar arrangement in Punjab.

Later, Gilani extended a formal invitation to the PML-N but the party turned this down in the face of widespread opposition from its cadres.

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