Old Beginnings


From the sound of chaos erupting from leading spokespersons on reservations over not being consulted in the midst of the budget season, the Pakistan People’s Party seems an ardent believer in “having the cake and eating it too.”
Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Hassan Murtaza and Syed Murtaza Wahab have, in the past few days, addressed raging press conferences; complaining how they were, despite being a part of the government machinery, not included in the decision-making processes. A furious Mr Shah, at one point, wondered, “People will ask us what have we done. Will we tell them that we don’t even know about it?”
While these may appear to be perfectly reasoned grievances in a functional alliance, their validity loses appeal, considering the PPP’s role in the past few months. Back in February, merely weeks after its chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, had made headlines with a categorical denial of any merger with the archrival party, PML(N), his father, President Asif Ali Zardari shared a huddle with PM Sharif and made everyone believe they were back to the future. However, soon afterwards, the party that had overnight become a major player in propping up the incumbent government – for which they were graciously granted key constitutional positions – declared that it would not be a part of the cabinet.
In essence, this decision screamed out a preference for holding influence without being open to accountability. The top leadership stuck to their words, focusing on the grassroots and diverting all attention to establishing the Sindh government as a successful case study for the next polls. It could even roll out as an excellent strategy in a land known for unpredictable political turns, yet given these leaders’ disillusionment with the executive, speculations abound about a desire brewing within the party to play a more functional role in governance.
If influence is what they seek, the PML(N) still needs their support in getting the treasury bill passed, but what if the kingmakers wish for a larger chunk? *