ISLAMABAD - As the assemblies are approaching the culmination of its mandated constitutional terms, the hobnobbing and manoeuvring on the political horizon is also gaining momentum.

In this fluid situation political players are also taking new positions keeping in view the upcoming general elections and to get maximum out of it. The breaking away of MQM from the government alliance, seen as a political ploy by many, would definitely put them in a strong bargaining position as far as the appointment of caretaker chief minister in Sindh, while they would also be holding key to the appointment of Caretaker Prime Minister in case both the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the House would fail to agree on someone.

The Leader of Opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan's agitation over all this is not out of place as he has smelled the rat in the MQM's move and made it clear in his Sunday press conference that opposition would not fall prey to the ploy and would frustrate it.

Political analysts said that the decision of MQM to sit on opposition benches both in National and Sindh Assembly would actually compromise the strong bargaining position of PML-N in the appointment of caretaker Prime Minister as in case PM and Leader of Opposition fail to evolve consensus on any name then both of them would forward two names each to a eight-member committee to be constituted by Speaker NA to decide the matter and would pick any of the four names forwarded to it by PM and Leader of Opposition. Here with the induction of MQM in opposition in the NA the parity of PML-N with govt would affect and even if the MQM not doing all this with some covert understanding with government, it would not extend support to the PML-N nominated candidates keeping in view their chequered relations.

Sources in PPP informed that the party leadership has accelerated the process of finalising the names for the caretaker prime minister and the name of Federal Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh hit the media limelight Sunday evening following the news about his resignation. But later the Ministry of Finance has denied the news. Sources in the government said that they were giving a serious thought to the name of Dr Abdul Hafeez as caretaker prime minister for his vitality and utility in the budget preparations and his cosy relations with IMF.

Some insiders in the party were of the view that even PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif was also approached through Senator Ishaq Dar for getting approval of his (Hafeez) name.

However, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Ch Nisar Ali Khan in his Sunday press conference has said that they would oppose the name of Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh if proposed for the slot of caretaker PM.

Political observers said that the only leverage PML-N is the Punjab Assembly, which is going to complete its mandated term on April 9 and Punjab Government could stay in office well over 20 days after the dissolution of the federal government which would stay till March 16.

As the PPP leadership wanted the dissolution of the assemblies on the same day because they do not want to see the Punjab Government intact well after 24 days after the dissolution of the Federal Government, the situation neither accepted to PPP nor PML-Q, its main coalition partner in Punjab.