LAHORE – ASHRAF MUMTAZ - The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has been in and out of the PPP-led coalition several times in the past five years, and it, once again, parted ways with its senior partner on Saturday – this time ‘irrevocably’ - when the assemblies are left with only one month to complete their mandated term.

The reasons cited by the party leaders are that the PPP patronises criminals and terrorists and has failed to implement the Sindh People’s Local Government Act.

However, those opposed to the party headquartered in Karachi allege that the MQM is involved in a ‘mock fight’ with the PPP and has a greater plan in mind to safeguard the interests of both the parties. If this is not the real plan, then the only other plausible reason for the decision is that efforts are being made to isolate the PPP before the next elections.

The Awami National Party, which has also been a partner with the PPP for five years, recently announced that it would contest the next elections independently, not as ally of the PPP. This party worked with the PML-N in the past and may be joining hands with it after the next elections.

The PML-Q is holding talks with the PPP on seat adjustments, but there are still differences between them. A senior PPP leader Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, who is also a federal minister, has been quoted as saying that the agreement between the two parties is less likely to become a reality. The Gujrat politics may drive the PPP and the PML-Q apart.

This is the state of relations among the coalition partners. Analysts say that the only thing that can be predicted about Pakistan’s politics is that it is unpredictable.

Therefore, nothing can be said with a degree of certainty about the kind of alliances that will take shape at the time of the next elections, likely to be held by the middle of May.

It is being speculated that the MQM has taken the ‘quit cabinet’ decision to be able to get the seat of opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, by virtue of which the party will get a role in the selection of caretaker chief minister for the province.

Under the Constitution, it is for the chief minister and the leader of the opposition to select the caretaker chief minister.

If this theory is believed, then the PPP and the MQM will jointly contest the elections in Sindh against the grand alliance of 10 parties, cobbled together by Pir Pagara. Such a strategy may be in the interest of both the parties, especially because the PPP’s strongest rival PML-N is already making inroads into the stronghold of both the PPP and the MQM. Various nationalist parties and some other influential families of the province have announced their support to the two-time prime minister, which is a great achievement for him.

But if this theory is not the real game plan in the MQM’s mind, then the PPP will be isolated and will find it difficult to retain power even in Sindh, because of its poor performance.

As for the MQM’s complaints against the PPP, they carry no weight.

If the PPP was really patronising extortionists and terrorists – as alleged – this must have been happening for a long time. This is not an abrupt development, which dawned upon the MQM so close to the elections.

The timing of the decision reinforces the perception that the MQM without power is like fish without water. It has enjoyed power for five years and just a month before completing the term they have found a pretext to sit on opposition benches. It is hard to believe that the MQM is an opposition party. It has been a partner with the PPP for such a long time and is responsible for the failures of the government or problems facing the country. It can’t shrug off the responsibility just by quitting the cabinet at this juncture.

Cabinet is collectively responsible for whatever decisions the government takes. If it shares the credit, it also has to share the discredit. And, unfortunately, the PPP has done little to be proud of.

The MQM used the resignations card several times that now it has lost its importance. Whenever the MQM takes such a decision, people start thinking that it wants to ‘extort’ a price for reviewing its decision.

Some people ask why the Sindh governor – who is an MQM nominee – has not tendered resignation along with the ministers?

An MQM leader says that the governor will quit once the ministers’ resignations are accepted. But what if the resignations of the governor and ministers were tendered and accepted simultaneously? Maybe, the MQM still wants to keep the governor’s card with it.