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PPP, PML-N near a 'deal' on budget, CEC

25 May, 2012

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LAHORE: Despite being at loggerheads with each other on various political issues, the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are inching closer to a thaw on the passage of next year's budget to pave the way for general elections, sources in the two parties told our sources.

Sources in the PPP said the party's initial efforts to come to terms with the opposition through JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman, though failed to materialise, the renewed efforts in this regard are bearing fruit since both the parties are convinced that the passage of annual budget would be the last milestone to march towards the holding of general elections later this year.

Sources said the PML-N appeared to be convinced on the point of partly boycotting the budget session against conceding to the ruling party's demand to let the prime minister attend the proceedings for a brief period of time while the opposition would be out of the House in protest.

Sources in the PML-N, while confirming the initial contacts with the ruling PPP, said an understanding on running the business of the House is highly likely since it wanted general elections at the earliest to rid the nation of a lame duck PPP-led coalition government.

Sources said the PML-N would like to continue to beat the PM with the stick of morality for not quitting the office despite being convicted in a contempt of court case. Yet, they added, the party has not made its mind to move the court on National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza's ruling, which let Yousaf Raza Gilani off the hook and allowed him to see through the passage of an unprecedented fifth budget by any elected prime minister.

Sources in the PPP said the party leadership, on the other hand, had given a go-ahead to its member in the parliamentary committee for the selection of new chief election commissioner (CEC) by considering the names proposed by the opposition.

Sources said it is highly likely that the new election commissioner is nominated unanimously since the opposition's proposed names carried at least two names who can be supported by the ruling PPP.

Sources said the PPP believes that it stands a very good chance despite incumbency factor to form the future government, hence, it wants a CEC who enjoys trust of all political forces, particularly the PML-N and its arch-rival the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Sources in the PPP said coalition partners have also expressed no reservations in selecting one out of three names proposed by the opposition PML-N for fair and impartial elections.

Political observers believe that the PML-N, in shape of a ruling by Fehmida Mirza, has got a good chance of re-engagement with the PPP government to cross the remaining impediments for the holding of general elections. They said it is opportune time for the PML-N to direct all its energies in the democratic transition with the help of fair, free and impartial elections without seeking a redressal to political issue through courts.

The observers said the speaker has consulted some most respectable legal minds, including Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, whom the opposition also wanted to see as the next CEC. It is likely that Fakharuddin G Ibrahim would have advised the same as the speaker has mentioned in the ruling on PM's disqualification matter, said the observers, and added the opposition needs to move forward as more pressing issues like missing persons in Balochistan, unrest in Sindh, law and order in Punjab and the poor economy await its attention.

End.

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