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Is a PTI-PPP deal on cards?


 News Analysis |

A prominent leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Mr. Saeed Ghani reminded the federal government that the provincial government has the authority to ban the entry of federal ministers to the province. He was commenting on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) decision of placing the names of PPP’s chairman and co-chairman in the Exit Control List (ECL).  “If the federal government has the authority to place the names of suspects in ECL then the provincial government has authority to ban ministers’ entry to the province” Mr. Ghani reportedly said.

It is important to mention here that the PTI and PPP are not on good terms after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s uncompromising stance over his anti-corruption campaign. Former President Asif Ali Zardari is accused of money-laundering and fake accounts. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered to constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the matter. The top court ordered the formation on the recommendations of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The FIA presented its report on the 28th August and recommended the court to form a JIT.

Read more: Is PML-N going to face a leadership crisis?

JIT came up with some shocking facts which demanded a further inquiry and careful examination of the assets owned by the former president and his sister Faryal Talpur. The JIT also recommended placing the names of 172 people on the ECL including the former president, his sister, and party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

The apex court had, however, directed the government to exclude the names of Mr. Bilawal and Chief Minister Sindh Mr. Syed Murad Ali Shah.

While the media and courts were dealing with JIT and its findings, a journalist came up with some more revelation against the former president which showed that he owned a luxurious apartment in America that was not declared in his nomination papers. PTI decided to file a reference against Mr. Zardari before the Election Commission of Pakistan but after a week withdrew its application and decided to approach the SC.

Read more: Why PTI has withdrawn petition against Zardari

The ruling party argues that it has more evidence to show in the apex court which will be more effective. However, analysts argue that the PTI is giving some leverage to Mr. Zardari whose help is pivotal to give legal cover to the military courts. PTI does not enjoy a two-third majority in the NA or Senate which is required for any constitutional amendment. It is being speculated that the ruling party wants Mr. Zardari to cooperate with them.

As far as PTI is concerned, it has out rightly rejected such speculations and maintained that PM Khan has made up his mind and he will never compromise on rule of law. There is no NRO on PTI’s table, lawmakers from the ruling party have confirmed on national TV.

Observers opine that PTI seems to be in a complex political situation. At one hand, it needs support in the national assembly for an effective legal or constitutional development and, at the same time, it is going after those who misused their authority for their personal gains; that includes all major leadership of two parties, PMLN, PPP.

Prominent analysts Mr. Orya Maqbool Jan believes that government is not concerned about the military courts or its extension rather the main thing is going on in Baluchistan where PTI will lose the majority if it fails to seek a peaceful settlement through negotiation with the local leadership where Mr. Zardari has some influence.

Read more: SC rejects FIA’s report, orders not to close Asghar Khan Case

However, the perception of Zardari’s influence could be false. Zardari’s influence has reduced to Hasil Bazenjo, who has five seats in Senate but no seat in the National Assembly. Baluchistan is largely governed by Baluchistan Awami Party that is considered close to the establishment. Therefore, ‘Baluchistan threat’ by Zardari may carry no water.

Whether it is about military courts or the government in Baluchistan, PTI is in a complex political scenario. It is argued that any compromise on rule of law or war against corruption will lead to a surprise change of public opinion about the present government. Analysts argue that this is something which the ruling party does not afford at any cost. Therefore, there is likely to be no deal between PTI and PPP.