Why is PML-N geared up to push for snap polls? – by Irfan Shigri

According to a recent report, PML-N has decided to initiate a push for dislodging the PPP government and to seek fresh parliamentary elections ahead of the Senate polls in March 2012. (It may be noted that this date coincides with Najam Sethi’s forecast. In a recent TV talk-show, Sethi, known for his contacts with key stakeholders, “predicted” that the PPP government will not last beyond March 2012.)

That the PML-N wants to disturb the apple-cart before the next Senate elections is very plausible.

If status quo remains, PPP will have roughly 44 senators till 2015. This will mean even if PML-N forms the government in 2013, it will not have its way on legislation without the support of the PPP (with perhaps ANP) coalition.

This is indeed a major challenge for someone notorious for accumulating all powers (legislative, judiciary and sharia) in his own person.

It seems that the PML-N has no time for reconciliation politics and has not come to terms with the trend of coalitiion politics which is set to dominate electoral outcomes in the foreseeable future. Their democratic credentials are suspect, and now it seems that (GHQ-induced?) political expediency might engulf them.

Here is the news report from Express Tribune:

PML-N gears up to push for snap polls

Attempts at assuaging the main opposition seem to have failed as the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to initiate a push for dislodging the government and to seek fresh parliamentary elections ahead of the Senate polls in March next year.

During a meeting with party members at the Punjab House on Tuesday, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said that he would use the administration’s failure to improve the ailing economy and to control “spiralling” corruption as a pretext for a campaign for holding snap elections. At least two key party officials confirmed to The Express Tribune that the group would set in motion a process to lead the country towards elections from July this year, immediately after the National Assembly passes the budget.

The party has also finalised the plan to expel members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the Punjab cabinet.

If elections for the Senate are held under the current arrangement, the PPP would emerge with a majority in the upper house – meaning that the next administration would be under pressure in terms of legislation.

The PML-N believes it can win the next elections and form the government. “That’s why we want fresh parliamentary polls ahead of the Senate elections,” an explained an official.

“We are not in a hurry, but  will definitely give a call for dislodging the inefficient government,” said an official who attended the meeting.

Last month, the PML-N set a 45-day deadline for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led federal government to implement a 10-point agenda it proposed for steering the country’s economy out of a deepening economic crisis.

The deadline is set to end on February 23.

The PML-N’s demands include cutting down on non-development expenditures, reducing the size of the cabinet and eradicating corruption from government departments.

There has been some development on the implementation, but the PML-N said it was too little too late.

“The pace and the swiftness we wanted the government to act with, is missing. That is what’s bothering us the most and there is hardly any hope for any breakthrough,” the PML-N member said, declining to be named.

According to the plan envisaged during the meeting, the party official added, the PML-N would wait till the deadline expires before kicking the PPP members out of the Punjab cabinet.

“That will be the first step. Tougher things will follow,” he explained. “We will seek fresh elections this year.”

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the party media office quoted Sharif as expressing disappointment in the progress of the talks with the government for implementing the reform agenda. “There is no ray of hope,” Sharif told his party stalwarts.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2011.



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