Now PPP and PML-N spat over Punjab governor

May 16th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, May 16 (IANS) The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its ally Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are embroiled in a fresh row - this time over journalist-businessman Salmaan Taseer who has been named the governor of Punjab province. The PML-N is furious that the PPP has appointed as governor someone who is known to be close to President Pervez Musharraf. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s aides are openly saying that Musharraf is to blame for the growing rift between the PPP and their PML-N.

The PML-N has already quit the PPP government over the latter’s failure to restore the more than 60 judges sacked by Musharraf in November. But the PML-N has said that it will continue to support the government of PPP, which otherwise does not enjoy majority in parliament.

“Taseer is a controversial person and close to Musharraf… We cannot accept him as governor,” PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told IANS. Khan termed the appointment “a joint move” by the presidency and PPP against the PML-N government in Punjab.

The PPP leadership tried to downplay the significance of the appointment. Its spokesman Farhatullah Babar gave the impression as if the PML-N had been taken into confidence ahead of the announcement. The PML-N has denied this.

“Taseer’s appointment as governor is a prelude to a horse-trading plan prepared in the presidency,” said Khan, adding that the PML-N had taken on “a dictator like Musharraf and can fight Salmaan (Taseer) as well”.

Political pundits are warning that the PPP and PML-N, after coming together to form a coalition, appeared to be inching towards their traditional rivalry.

“I thought that they will continue to support each other for at least three months but they are falling apart in just 45 days,” former minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told IANS.

Ahmed predicted that “very soon” both the parties would start destabilizing each other’s governments and perhaps even go to court against one another.

Taseer is known as a chartered accountant and a PPP stalwart. A media baron, he owns two newspapers — Daily Times and Aajkal as well as TV channel Business Plus.

Most significantly, he is known for his pro-Musharraf views. According to media reports, he called on the president Thursday before his appointment as governor.

“Taseer has been frequently heard on television taking Nawaz Sharif to task. The newspapers under his command have been advocating a ‘liberal’ set up in the country, chiefly comprising Musharraf and the PPP,” Dawn’s Lahore editor Ashar Rehman said Friday.

A report in The News said that PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari would soon have his “sweet revenge” when he enters the Punjab Governor House from where he was arrested in 1996 and was incarcerated for years.

Zardari was taken into custody after then president Farooq Leghari dismissed the government of Benazir Bhutto. It was then alleged that Zardari was influencing MPs to change their loyalties.

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