Courtesy: "DAWN", 30 April 2011
Zardari ‘accepts all demands': Pervez Elahi to be Deputy PM: PPP and Q agree to seal dealBy Syed Irfan Raza & Zulqernain Tahir
ISLAMABAD, LAHORE, April 29: In another round of talks on Friday, the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Q firmed up their new political alliance, with the former conceding to create the post of deputy prime minister for the latter and agreeing to keep the Higher Education Commission (HEC) under the federal government, sources in the two parties told Dawn.
One interesting aspect of the meeting between President Asif Ai Zardari and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was that it was also attended by PML-Q’s Faisal Saleh Hayat who was earlier reported to be opposing the plan for his party to join the coalition government.
Mr Zardari, who is Co-Chairman of the PPP, accepted Q-League’s demand that its leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi should be deputy prime minister in the new set-up. He also agreed that the HEC would not be devolved to the provinces and the National Curriculum and National Drug Control would remain federal subjects.
The two sides also agreed to create Saraiki and Hazara provinces and to form a commission for the purpose. Mr Hayat said the two parties would formally sign an agreement next week.
If the agreed formula is implemented, the PML-Q will get six ministries — health, trade and commerce, petroleum, industries, agriculture and information technology — and six ministries of state, three advisers to the prime minister and UN ambassadorship.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “The meeting discussed political situation and realignment of political forces to face new challenges.” He said more meetings would be held soon.
Information Minister Firdos Ashiq Awan told reporters that the political situation would clear in about three days.
When contacted, Faisal Salah Hayat said: “Today we gave a formal shape to our accord with the PPP under which it has been decided that Chaudhry Pervez Elahi will be deputy prime minister.” Sources said that Mr Zardari had also agreed to make some constitutional amendments for the purpose. Legal experts said there was no bar in the Constitution to the creation of a post for deputy prime minister and it had been done in the past.
Besides distribution of ministries, Mr Hayat said, many other important issues, including long-term partnership and seat adjustments in the next elections, had been discussed at the meeting. He said that President Zardari was very candid and keenly listened to “our points of view and assured us that all demands would be met.”
Observers believe that the post deputy prime minister will curtail the powers of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Mr Gilani was kept away from negotiations between the two parties and said this while talking to reporters in Multan talks being held between President Zardari and Q-Leaguers and he would inform “me after finalising the deal”.
The PPP’s core and parliamentary committees have already given their consent to the alliance and authorised President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to finalise a deal with the PML-Q. The PPP needs PML-Q’s support for a comprehensive majority in parliament after its two coalition partners — Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F — quit the government.
Wajahat Husain, Sheikh Waqas Akram, Raza Hayat Hiraj, Riaz Peerzada, Sardar Talib Nakai, Sultan Cheema, Atif Tauseef, Amir Muqam, Ghaus Bakhsh Mehr and Akram Gil of the PML-Q are set to be included in the expanded cabinet next week.
The sources said the PPP had also agreed to give four Senate seats to the Q-League in the March election.
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