New alliance to cut premier’s authority
ISLAMABAD - Under a secret clause of an imminent power-sharing deal between the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will have to forfeit some of the control he has exercised so far over the federal cabinet.
An understanding to this effect was reached recently at the presidency.
In a largely reduced role, as envisaged by the proposed agreement, Gilani would not be able to supervise or meddle in the affairs of 10 proposed ministers given to the PML-Q. Instead, those ministers would be accountable to their own party head Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who would sit in the prime minister’s secretariat on a separate floor along with his party ministers — conjuring the image of a parallel administration.
The move — which will give the prime minister control over only a selected number of ministers — is expected to anger Gilani, who is still in the dark about the power-sharing deal cut at the presidency. Gilani was conspicuous by his absence during several meetings between the PML-Q leadership and President Asif Ali Zardari or his emissary Babar Awan.
Gilani is particularly peeved by creation of the new post of deputy premier which is expected to be allocated to Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former chief minister of Punjab and cousin of PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Elahi proposes to make Lahore his hub for political and government functions.
Gilani has his own residence in Lahore where he spends weekends. A separate camp office of the prime minister will be opened at the Lahore state guest house where Elahi would sit in an apparent challenge to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The president was scheduled to have one final meeting later on Sunday night with Chaudhry Shujaat and his colleagues in which Gilani was also likely to be present. The meeting will give final touches to ministerial portfolios of the PML-Q hopefuls.
After the passage of the 18th amendment, Gilani was convinced that he was the most powerful prime minister — even if that was only on paper.
The PML-Q has presented a 19-point agenda to the president to give a conceptual basis to the political alignment. The agenda covers detailed roles in delimitation of constituencies, provincial governments, local government, Senate and the next general elections, as well as the formation of new provinces.
Sources within the two parties concede that only the broad parameters had been discussed so far and that details had not been finalised.