ANP, PPP at loggerheads on refugee aid, coalition cracking

June 20th, 2009 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 20 (IANS) Cracks have begun emerging in Pakistan’s ruling coalition with junior partner Awami National Party (ANP) refusing to participate in the parliamentary debate on the budget for 2009-10. It disagrees with alliance leader Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on a variety of issues - but the government is not in any danger.
Quoting sources, Online news agency said ANP chief Asfandar Yar Wali and other party members were upset for not being taken on board on the budget 2009-10 and also because the government had taken control of a large chunk of the foreign aid being received for the refugees uprooted by the military’s anti-Taliban operations in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that the ANP rules.

Due to this, the aid is not being directly forwarded to the NWFP government and because of this, the rehabilitation of the refugees was becoming difficult.

The ANP has demanded that foreign aid should be directly delivered to the NWFP government so that it could utilise this in an effective manner, the sources said.

It has also been pointed out that PPP chief whip and federal minister Khurshid Shah invited Wali on Wednesday and Thursday to speak on the budget but he refused to do so.

Wali also stayed away from the reception Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had hosted earlier this week for members of parliament.

The government has also requested Jamiat Ulema Islam chief Maulana Fazlul Rehman to bring around Wali, but so far to no avail.

The PPP has 124 seats in the 341-seat National Assembly or lower house of parliament, to the ANP’s 13, while coalition partner Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has 25 members. The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which has 91 seats, has previously pledged to support the government and ensure it completes its full term in 2013.

The PPP and the PML-N had formed the coalition after their one-two finish in the 2008 general elections. The PML-N, however, walked out after PPP co-chair and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reneged on the governance agenda the two parties had agreed on before the elections.

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