ISLAMABAD - Even President Asif Ali Zardari has failed to narrow down differences between his party’s Sindh chapter and MQM on local bodies’ setup in the province and widening cracks could ultimately lead to the break-up of coalition once more.

Sources aware of the background negotiations taking place between the two sides over the past several months and for which a committee, comprising the provincial leadership of both the coalition partners, failed to resolve the differences between the two sides and finally President Asif Ali Zardari had to rush to Karachi, but despite all his efforts the matter could not be resolved. A source in the ruling PPP told TheNation the only positive thing was that the two sides were still engaged in dialogue and searching for some mutually acceptable solution to the problem.

Sources in PPP said that they were caught in a very difficult situation as apart from MQM they have to take care of the concerns of other coalition partners in the province  ANP and PML-F. Both these parties are against the complete reversion to the district government system while most of PPP Sindh leaders also want a return to the old municipality system.

It was in this backdrop that MQM was dithering on extending support to the government on 20th constitutional amendment and they could ditch the ruling PPP any time. The MQM also expressed its resentment on fresh increase in petroleum products prices by walking out of both the houses of parliament the other day.

Sources in the PPP said it was due to this flip-flop on MQM’s part that the PPP was looking for support from opposition parties, including PML-N, to have smooth passage of 20th amendment from the parliament and keep check on its junior coalition partners at the same time.

Sources said that the differences between the MQM and PPP took new turn when the PPP leadership took up the matter of holding pre-schedule general elections with its junior coalition partners. MQM sharply reacted to the move and asked the PPP leadership to settle the matter of local bodies in Sindh before taking any decision on holding of pre-time elections after the presentation of annual budget.

Political observers say if the general elections in Sindh would be held with the commissionerate system in place and old five districts of Karachi restored, MQM would surely be at a disadvantage and that was the reason they were struggling hard to get the things reversed ahead of the general elections.

Sources said that there is a strong possibility that MQM would once again part ways with the ruling PPP if their demands regarding the local bodies system were not met.

LB rift threatens Sindh coalition