So finally Yousaf Raza Gillani, the Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party loyalist and the former Speaker of the National Assembly has been nominated by the alliance as the next Prime Minister of the country. The nomination comes during a debilitating threat of coup in the party ranks. It was believed that the senior leader of the party Amin Fahim was weighing his wings to lead a dissenting group within the party with the support of Pervez Musharraf if he was not elected the Prime Minister. This would not have caused great upheaval at the national level but would surely have affected the partyâ€™s standing in the Sindh province. Indeed it was being said that a revolt will take place there and a splinter group on the fashion of the Patriots group would form government there with the support of the MQM.
On Friday Asif Zardari the co-chairman of the party played a master stroke by luring the Karachi based MQM to its side. In this way the prospect of the support base for the forward block, the splinter group or whatever you may call it was immediately rubbished. Hence the reluctant embrace of the decision by the Makhdoom of Hala too.
There are some very interesting points to note here. First that, Yousaf will be the first elected Prime Minister from the Southern Punjab region, widely considered seriously impoverished. After Sindh this region is acknowledged to have always sent the maximum number of the Peopleâ€™s Party MPs to the assemblies.
Secondly, he was only last year freed from imprisonment, which had continued for nearly five years under Musharraf regime. The allegations were of the misuse of authority during his term as the National Assembly Speaker. Day after tomorrow the same man will be sworn in as the Prime Minister by the very man who presided over his persecution. It must also be pointed out that he will not be the first man who was first tried and then given a public office during Musharraf regime. This honor goes Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, the former interior minister who had to flee the country owing to Musharraf regimeâ€™s litigation at the start. Who says revenge is not sweet. Moreover Yousaf is known to have supported the restoration of judiciary. The agenda of the upcoming government is becoming clearer still.
Again it has been said for quite a while that if he is nominated at least 12 MNAs from the beleaguered PML-Q, the party featuring Musharraf loyalists, belonging to the Southern Punjab region will switch sides and vote for him. That will mean a humiliating defeat for the Q-League which is not left with anything more than 55 seats in the Federal Assembly even now. The better option for the party then would be to desist from fielding a candidate against Yousaf.
Having said that let me also praise the nomination for he is an excellent choice. Yet let me remind you that I still believe that Zardari by far is the best candidate for the premiership, for the federation, for the party and for the future of democracy.