Islamabad, Aug 26 : After Nawaz Sharif pulled out of the PPP-led coalition yesterday, PPP senior leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim and JUI's Maulana Fazlur Rehman seem to emerge as the key players in the run up to the presidential election in Pakistan in which PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari stands a tough contender.
According to The News, Zardari's success in the presidential election will be "seriously jeopardized" if Fazlur Rehman sticks to his publicly announced word that he "cannot work with a man who does not honour his spoken or even written accords".
Zardari had failed to stick to the resolution adopted in the Murree Accord with the PML-N in which he had promised to work towards restoration of all Supreme Court judges, including deposed chief justice Iftikhar Gilani, within 30 days of the formation of PPP-led federal government.
The paper further said that "if PPP's deeply hurt senior leader Fahim has any number of MNAs or MPAs and brings them together, Zardari's chances will seriously diminish".
But, Fahim has already announced support to the PPP Co-chairman and he would have to behave as badly as his chairman in honouring his word.
Most of the analysts believe Maulana Fazlur has distanced himself from Zardari to "increase his leverage and bargaining power".
As things stand today, the numbers game favours Zardari unless something totally unexpected happens, which can't be ruled out, given the country's murky politics as different power centres work in different directions. In case of his victory, his tally will be considerably reduced if the JUI-F refrains from voting for him, added the paper.
Maulana Fazl has a hefty bloc of some 41 votes in the presidential electoral college. According to the calculations, his JUI-F has seven seats in the National Assembly, 17 senators including four of the Jamaat-e-Islami, seven votes in the NWFP Assembly and 10 in Balochistan.
Zardari's success in the presidential election will also hinge on the support of 24 FATA members from the tribal areas. If a significant number of them slip away from his side, for which there are always chances, Zardari's final tally will be further affected.
The secret ballot, as required under Article 41(3) of the Constitution for the presidential election, may impair the wishful expectations of the contestants because many legislators may go by the calls of their conscience instead of the party discipline as nobody would be watching them when they would be stamping their ballots.
Presently, the PPP has 125 MNAs, the MQM (25), the ANP (13), Fata (12), besides 32 senators. Besides, the PPP has nearly 50 electoral votes in Balochistan, around 60 in Sindh, 40 plus in the NWFP and around 20 in Punjab.
The other bloc consist of 91 MNAs of the PML-N, PML-Q (54), JUI (7), Functional League (5) and one of the Sherpao group. This faction has around 68 senators if 17 Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) are included in it. The MMA component, the Jamaat-e-Islami, has already opposed Zardari's candidacy.
In the provincial assemblies, the anti-Zardari votes comprise 40 plus from the Punjab, 24 from the NWFP, an unspecified number from Balochistan depending on the role of the PML-Q and five from Sindh.