News / Asia

Pakistan's Government Scrambles to Survive Coalition Defections

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani (file photo)
Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan's ruling party is struggling to keep its grip on power a day after a key partner quit the governing coalition, denying it the majority in the national parliament. The prime minister is meeting with opposition politicians in a bid to head off a possible no-confidence vote.

Last month, a small party in the parliament, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, announced it was switching to the opposition in parliament and demanded Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani step down.

But the major political setback came Sunday when the second largest party in the ruling coalition, the Muttahida Quami Movement,announced it was also ending its partnership with the government. The move has turned Prime Minister Gilani's government into a minority coalition in parliament.

MQM senior leader Faisal Sabzwari explained the party's decision to switch to the opposition.

"We were not taken into confidence in many decisions whether they are economic or political or governmental decisions, and that is why we have pulled ourselves out from the federal cabinet. And now we have announced to sit in the opposition because of the recent price hike and petroleum hike," Sabzwari said.

Prime Minister Gilani has dismissed suggestions the latest political crisis will cause the collapse of his government. He met with leaders of two major opposition parties, including former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.

Speaking to reporters after the meetings, the prime minister said there is consensus among political parties that the current democratic system must stay on course.

Legal experts say there is little threat to Mr. Gilani's administration, despite its lost majority, unless opposition parties impose a no-confidence vote.

Former justice Tariq Chaudhry says deep divisions among the opposition parties are likely to discourage attempts to dislodge the prime minister.

"They have to suggest the name of the proposed prime minister, and I think and I believe that it would not be possible for them to bring a consensus prime minister because on that point there will be division among the parties," said Chaudhry.

The chief spokesman of former Prime Minister Nawa Sharif's opposition party, Ahsan Iqbal, acknowledges that with 92 members in the 342-seat legislative National Assembly, his party is not in a position to push for a no-confidence vote.

"If we file a no-confidence motion and tomorrow we see that one party has made a deal with the government, other party has made another deal with the government and then we are left in the middle that would be very damaging for our own politics," Iqbal said. "So therefore we have to watch the situation, and unless we have the confidence that a no-confidence motion will succeed and also result in a stable government we will be very reluctant to just jump on the bases of certain splashes created by certain political actors (reference to rival MQM)."

The political turmoil has hit Pakistan as it grapples with a fragile economy and security threats posed by al-Qaida-led militant groups.

The ruling coalition headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party has struggled in recent weeks to keep its allies together amid rising criticism the government has failed to improve economic conditions, check corruption and halt growing inflation.

Some critics say the defecting parties could be using the political crisis to win concessions from the government, but party representatives have dismissed these suggestions.

The next elections are due in 2013, but most political groups are not in favor of holding early polls amid rising militant attacks.

Some political and security analysts argue that no political party or a new coalition would like to replace the current Pakistani government because of the critical economic problems that have forced the country to rely on $11-billion loans from the International Monetary Funds.

The IMF wants Pakistan to significantly reform its economy in order to keep the loan program going.

There are also concerns the political crisis could distract Pakistan's anti-terrorism efforts, which the United States says are critical for the international military campaign against Taliban extremists in neighboring Afghanistan. But security experts in Pakistan say the war is being fought by the powerful military that has not been influenced by political developments in the country.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid