Musharraf expects PPP-PML(N) split: report

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Islamabad, May 26 (UNI) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf believes that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will part company because of several insurmountable issues.

However, Gen Musharraf's main ally, the PML-Q, holds the opposite view.

''Musharraf has repeatedly told us since the PPP-PML-N alliance was formed after the February 18 general elections that the two ruling coalition partners do not have much in common to stay together for too long and will fall apart very soon,'' local daily The News quoted a senior PML-Quaid, the former ruling alliance leader as saying.

After the withdrawal of PML-N ministers from the federal Cabinet, he said the President had reminded the leadership of his ally that what he had been asserting had proved correct.

However, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Secretary General Mushahid Hussain are of the firm view that the PPP-PML-N union will continue, as they need each other.

In their opinion, they will remain together despite facing hiccups as long as Musharraf is there. They say that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif would not totally abandon the PPP because he knows that this would strengthen his arch-rival, Pervez Musharraf, whom he wants to get ousted from the Presidency while sitting on the shoulders of PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari.

The PML-Q leaders further think that Nawaz Sharif is also aware of the fact that Musharraf would be out to do anything to stop the fall of the PPP-led government if the PML-N tried to pull it down.

''The PML-Q's declaration that it will not let the PPP government cave in was made at the behest of the President, who keeps urging this party to stand with the PPP,'' another PML-Q leader said.

However, the Chaudhrys of Pakistan's Gujrat are insistent on not being part of the PPP-led government.

Although they issue statements on Musharraf's insistence that the PML-Q would stand with the government if efforts were made to bring it down, they do not want to become a PPP ally in any way.

The abortive presidential move to remove Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as PML-Q chief was meant to tell Mr Zardari that the 'irritants' have been scrapped and he should now have no objection to accept the PML-Q as his ally in place of the PML-N at the central and Punjab levels.

Another PML-Q leader said Gen Musharraf had taken the initiative to divest the Chaudhrys of the prestigious party status on his own and had not been asked by Mr Zardari to do so.

''In fact, the President wanted to deliver the PML-Q to Zardari but failed because of the Chaudhrys' refusal to bow.'' PML-N top leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan's one-hour meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat during a recent Islamabad-Lahore flight had raised eyebrows in the Presidency, which had questioned the PML-Q leadership about it.

This move took place around the same time as Musharraf had asked Chaudhry Shujaat to step down.

The airborne session served both sides well. ''We want Chaudhry Shujaat to continue as president of the PML-Q because as long as he holds this office this party cannot have any kind of cooperation with the PPP because of his personal enmity with the Bhutto family,'' a PML-N leader said.

The PML-Q used the meeting for its own objectives. It gave a message to Musharraf that it has the option of joining hands with the PML-N if it was pushed to the wall. It knows that the PML-N played up the meeting for its own reasons.

UNI XC PD KP1232

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