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PML-N unlikely to buckle under PPP pressure

ISLAMABAD: Publicly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may be ‘happy’ with the homecoming of Asif Ali Zardari, but the ruling party is unlikely to yield to the PPP on thorny issues. The PML-N will not budge on the ongoing surgical operation in Karachi nor will it acquiesce to the four demands spelled out by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, The Express Tribune has learnt.

It may be a coincidence, but Zardari’s trumpeted return coincided with separate meetings of Premier Sharif with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and ISI chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar where, besides other things, Karachi’s political and security situation is said to have been discussed. Shortly after the meetings, the Sindh Rangers raided the offices of people linked to Anwar Majeed and Manzoor Kaka, the two influential figures said to be Zardari’s frontmen.

Sources said the PPP leadership expected the government would give in to Bilawal’s four demands and also extend ‘some kind of leverage’ on the Karachi operation.

The PPP has repeatedly called for Interior Minister Nisar to step down which, insiders say, is part of the PPP’s plan to build pressure on the federal government to secure its political interests in Karachi.

“The four demands are a ruse, the real problem is PPP’s high stakes in Karachi,” said a source in the PML-N. “By pushing these demands, the PPP wants to gain political leverage in order to show that it’s still relevant,” he added.

A government source told The Express Tribune that it has been conveyed to Premier Sharif that the new security establishment was determined to pursue the Karachi operation with ‘more vigour’ as any let-up might undo its gains.

“The door to backdoor contacts is shut,” said another highly-placed government official privy to the matter. “The new security establishment is set to pursue the policy of blanket crackdown in Karachi against those involved in political violence and terror financing,” he said.

Another source said the reshuffle in the army brass after the takeover of the new army chief and his avowed resolve to continue the Karachi operation with full force carried a message that there will be no going back. “However, some circles didn’t or couldn’t read this loud and clear message. The military officers who had played a key role in bringing peace in Karachi have been given key assignments in the new military set-up – a move that explains everything,” the source added. “Friday’s crackdown endorses this.”

PPP incensed by Friday’s raids

Opposition leader Khursheed Shah said the government was trying to push the PPP against the wall. “The raids were conducted just when the head of the country’s largest political party was returning to Pakistan. Only a day earlier, the PM expressed happiness over Zardari sahib’s homecoming. The government is playing a double-game and the PM is using his notorious interior minister as a front-man to execute this dual policy,” Shah said.

“These antics threaten democracy. It’s PML-N’s traditional policy. When they are in trouble, they come to us begging for help and when the storm is over, they become strangers. Nothing can dissuade us from our December 27 plan,” he added. “After Dec 27, the government would again seek our support. Just wait and see.”

courtesy : express tribune

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