Awami National Party may quit Pakistan’s ruling coalition

July 3rd, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, July 3 (IANS) Angered over promises not being kept, the Awami National Party (ANP) could pull out of Pakistan’s ruling coalition but this would not impact on the government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. The “reservations and complaints” of the ANP, which rules the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), “with regard to the conduct” of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that leads the ruling coalition “have increased”, The News said Thursday, quoting sources.

“The ANP has been compelled to seriously think about remaining in the coalition or parting company with it,” the sources added.

One reason for the growing differences between the ANP and the PPP, the sources said, was non-allocation of portfolios to the two ANP ministers in the cabinet in accordance with the agreement reached while stitching together the coalition after the February general elections.

This apart, the ANP had also been denied top offices in federal government institutions and organisations as had been agreed upon.

Asfandyar Wali Khan, grandson of the legendary Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, better known as the Frontier Gandhi, leads the ANP. It has 13 seats in the 342-member National Assembly, in which the PPP and alliance partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) command 212 seats. The fourth partner, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), has six seats.

Relations between the PPP and the PML-N are at best tenuous, with the latter having pulled its ministers out of the government after the PPP failed to keep its promise on restoring the Supreme Court judges President Pervez Musharraf sacked after imposing an emergency last year. The PML-N, however, stayed on in the coalition.

The judges have been restored via the indirect route of increasing the Supreme Court strength from 16 to 29 to accommodate the new bench that Musharraf installed and this has not gone down well with the PML-N.

The JUI has also served notice to distance itself from the government over the military operations launched against the Taliban in the tribal areas of the NWFP bordering Afghanistan, as also against militants who were threatening provincial capital Peshawar.

ANP spokesperson Zahid Khan confirmed the differences with the PPP and said the party was “seriously considering” whether to stay in the ruling coalition or quit.

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