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Estrangement between PPP, PML-N likely to deepen

ISLAMABAD: Asif Ali Zardari is back in the country — at the helm of the Pakistan Peoples Party. But the party’s bitter-sweet relationship with the PML-N is likely to become far more bitter than sweet because the ruling party is unlikely to offer any concessions on the protracted security operation in Karachi.

Premier Nawaz Sharif conferred with his close aides and top security officials over the last couple of days after which he decided to continue the Karachi operation with full force, The Express Tribune has learnt. Top PML-N office-bearers and government officials from Punjab, including Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, were part of these deliberations held in Islamabad and Lahore.

Zardari returns to a different role

Insiders say these huddles had been convened to get a ‘sense’ of the establishment’s mind on Karachi where the civilian authorities received a categorical message that there would be no compromise on Karachi come what may. “There would be no retreat, regardless of political implications,” according to a well-placed source with direct knowledge of the matter.

“More arrests are likely in the city in the days to come, which might not go down well with the PPP leadership,” he said. “Information gleaned from suspects in custody will help identify their accomplices and abettors,” he added. “The next few weeks could be tough enough to offend the power centres there [in Karachi].”

A senior PML-N leader confirmed this development. “There will be no concessions in Karachi or elsewhere,” he said while explaining the government’s policy vis-à-vis Karachi operation and the PPP.

Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah sought to quash the impression that Friday’s raids were meant to send a message to the PPP. “Raids have been ongoing since March last year when the prime minister had ordered to scale up the Karachi operation. The government is determined to eliminate terrorism to restore peace in the metropolis.”

PML-N unlikely to buckle under PPP pressure

He also sought to downplay Premier Sharif’s meetings with his aides and security brass. “These were routine meetings where a number of issues were discussed. Security forces are credited for restoring the government’s writ in Karachi, Fata, Balochistan with the support of the PML-N government.”

Publicly, the PPP says it is not opposed to the Karachi operation. “We have supported this operation in the past,” Khursheed Shah, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, told The Express Tribune. “But Friday’s raids which were conducted just when Asif Zardari sahib returned home shows there is something fishy,” he added.

Shah said the PML-N government should stop ‘victimisation tactics’. “Power is a double edged sword. Today, we are at the receiving end. Tomorrow, it would be them [PML-N].”

courtesy : express tribune

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