Sharif''s PML-N ends alliance with PPP in Punjab province

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 25 (PTI) Former premier Nawaz Sharif''sPML-N today announced that it was parting ways with PPP inPakistan''s politically crucial province of Punjab, where bothhad been uneasy partners in the ruling coalition for nearlythree years.

The Cabinet in Punjab province, which has seven ministersfrom the PPP, "will be dissolved and a new one formed" byChief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif told a newsconference.

The PML-N chief made the announcement after chairing ameeting of top leaders of the PML-N to discuss relations withthe PPP, which also heads the government at the centre.

The decision to end the alliance with the PPP in Punjabwas made after the expiry of a deadline set by the PML-N forthe implementation of a 10-point reforms agenda.

"The PML-N and the PPP will go their separate ways (inPunjab). We are forced to say ''khuda hafiz'' (goodbye) to thePPP. We will now be separate parties in Punjab," Sharif said.

The PPP had not acted on most of the points in thePML-N''s reforms agenda, he added.

The decision was approved by a majority of the seniorleadership of the PML-N as the PPP had repeatedly reneged onpromises it made after coming to power in the 2008 generalelection, he said.

"We hope that after this decision, the PPP will changeits ways and take solid steps to provide good governance topeople in the remainder of its tenure (at the centre)," Sharifsaid.

Sharif listed a litany of complaints against the PPP andits chief, President Asif Ali Zardari, that dated back to theperiod when the PML-N had briefly joined the coalition at thecentre after the 2008 general election.

He accused Zardari of failing to implement severalpromises and contended that the PPP was not respecting orimplementing the verdicts of the superior judiciary.

Observers said the PML-N''s decision to part ways with thePPP would add to the problems of the federal government, whichis grappling with economic woes, terrorism and a tensestand-off with the US over the arrest of Raymond Davis, analleged CIA contractor.

Asked about the case of Davis, Sharif said Pakistan''scourts were independent and should decide the matter.

"We should respect the courts and others should do thattoo. The courts should decide," he said.

The PML-N party had decided in principle to part wayswith the PPP several days ago and the matter was formallysealed in today''s meeting of the party''s top leaders.

The two parties were uneasy partners in the coalitiongovernment in Punjab for nearly three years.

The PML-N, which is the main opposition party at thecentre, is now expected to step up its criticism of thefederal government, observers said.

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