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Zardari tries to rope in MQM for forming Govt

Nawaz Sharif's PML-N has opposed PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's move to discuss a possible coalition with pro-Musharraf MQM.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2008 13:40 IST

Stepping up consultations for forming a coalition government in Pakistan, PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari discussed possible cooperation with pro-Musharraf MQM's chief Altaf Hussain, a move apparently opposed by PML-N of Nawaz Sharif.

Amid mounting worries about the future of President Pervez Musharraf, the PML-Q, which had backed him, fired the first salvo against the beleaguered leader on Friday night, saying his decision to impose emergency was responsible for its "disastrous" performance in the February 18 polls.

The party, which bagged 39 parliamentary seats in the polls, is to shortly hold an extraordinary meeting in Islamabad apparently to prevent possible defections of its elected representatives.

Zardari spoke to the London-based Hussain on phone late on Friday night and discussed the political situation in the wake of Monday's general election in which the PPP has emerged the largest party in the National Assembly.

The MQM too performed well in the polls, bagging 19 seats in the lower house of parliament and emerging as the second largest party in the southern Sindh province, where the PPP is set to form the government.

During their 30-minute conversation, Zardari and Hussain and discussed the possibility of forming a coalition government at the centre and in Sindh. They said their parties would cooperate with each other and the modalities for power-sharing will be discussed at a later stage.

Both leaders agreed to cooperate unconditionally to strengthen democracy in the country. PML-N leaders, seeking anonymity, said the party is strongly opposed to the entry of pro-Musharraf MQM in a coalition.

They said Zardari might be reaching out to MQM to form a stable government in his home province of Sindh, where Hussain's party has also performed well.

Some PPP leaders are also reportedly not in favour of roping in traditional rival MQM for forming coalition governments at the centre and in Sindh.

While unveiling plans for forming a coalition at the centre along with former premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, Zardari had said he wanted a government of national consensus that would include parties like MQM.

The other parties being wooed by the PPP to form a coalition at the centre, including the PML-N and the ANP, are wary about Zardari's efforts to rope in the MQM as it had backed Musharraf and his unpopular regime.

Slain PPP leader and former premier Benazir Bhutto's loyalist Makhdoom Amin Fahim is the frontrunner to become Pakistan's next Prime Minister.

The newly elected Parliamentarians of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) met on Friday for the first time after it emerged as the single largest party and unanimously authorised Zardari, Bhutto's husband, to choose the Prime Ministerial candidate.