What lurks behind closed doors…

The sight of political parties putting their heads together is always a positive sign especially in Pakistan’s bizarre political culture.é Furthermore, the getting together of parties a! t election time in the form of an electoral alliance shows that political parties are mature enough to accommodate each others differences in order to secure a common goal.

Having said that, the goings on in the last couple of weeks in the electoral alliance category have been little short of incredible.é Never before have there been so many apparent possibilities of electoral alliances.é There seem to be several possible alliances, which each individual party may be part of.é For instance the PPPP is in talks with all main parties regarding seat adjustments or an electoral alliance, such as the PML(N), PAT, MMA, JI.é The same is the case with PML(Q) with it in apparent talks with MMA, PAT,PML(N) and others.é PAT is in talks with PML(Q), PPPP, PML(N).é MMA is in such talks with PML(N) and PML(Q).é Thus, a very confusing scenario is before onlookers who are baffled by stories of a particular party being part of three differe! nt possible alliances.

Never before in the history of pre-election scenarios in Pakistan has there been such an atmosphere of confusion.é Political parties seem to be leaving their options open by engaging into dialogue with parties from all sides of the political spectrum.é The reason for this seems to be the uncertainty created by the government with regards to the elections.é If the elections are to be in October then the government is leaving it very late in finalising all issues relating to electoral reforms, with the amendments packages not yet being finalised and announced.

There are rumors amongst the main stream political parties that the government has no intention of holding the elections in October, which is why it has left every thing so late.é Political parties are also crying foul saying that they are not being given adequate time to campaign.é This may be a deliberate attempt at keeping the political ! parties confused as to what will happen, giving them no time to campaign.

Even though an electoral alliance will in actual fact be an internal process of seat adjustments between member parties, only the collective effort of main political parties can be successful.é The goal of the anti government parties, which includes most of the main parties, is to stop Musharaf from hijacking the political system by handing the government to ! his ‘illegitimate child’, the PML(Q).

The anti government alliance, although not disclosed, a succession of meetings between the PPPP and PAT has almost let the cat out of the bag.é With two long meetings on successive days between PAT chairman Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri and PPPP chief Ameen Fahim, followed by another between Qadri and the PPPP’s Khawja Tariq Raheem (former Governor Punjab)é suggests both parties are finalising a possible electoral alliance what ever shape that might take.

With PML (N) also reportedly joining hands with PPPP in the coming elections, a mighty three party opposition alliance consisting of the PPPP,PML (N) and PAT may finally materialise.é There have been news stories in many newspapers to this effect.é The only problem is that there have also been many other stories of the same parties to be part of many other alliances.é What ever lurks behind closed doors better come out in the open soon as tim! e may be running out.

Mr. Jawed Iqbal, is an independent writer and a political analyst. His articles appear in printed and electronic media of Pakistan.