The opposition’s PDM

 
September 22, 2020

The APC held on Sunday evening, hosted by the PPP, and, most importantly of all, addressed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, may have highlighted the vast chasm between the ruling party and the...

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The APC held on Sunday evening, hosted by the PPP, and, most importantly of all, addressed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, may have highlighted the vast chasm between the ruling party and the mainstream opposition but also seems to have given some lease of life to opposition politics. How long this new round of opposition politics lasts is up for debate though. In his highly anticipated address, Mian Nawaz Sharif minced very few words in setting the tone and laying out without any innuendo or euphemism what he thought was wrong with the country, the government, the legitimacy of power and where power really resides in the country.

Contrary to what Maulana Fazlur Rahman seems to have wanted – en-masse resignation from assemblies – the opposition has eventually settled on a phased movement against the government, under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement. The PDM will also be launching countrywide protests starting soon and a long march in January. So as far as efforts go, the combined opposition seems to have at least settled on some sort of a way forward. However, we must proceed with caution since past such moments have seen the opposition consistently fail within parliament, despite holding a majority. One wonders whether the streets are a different matter. Certainly there was no evidence of such success in 2019 when Maulana Fazlur Rahman held his ‘dharna’, and the PPP and the PML-N showed reluctant inclination to join him.

It is also not yet clear precisely what all the stakeholders who hold influence in the country have made of Nawaz’s address and the APC but the past two days have certainly seen the ruling party take the APC seriously – a bit too seriously, some would say. Some analysts have said that the countless statements both before and after the APC betray a sense of panic within government quarters, but all that will be put to the test –- along with the commitment of the members of the APC – once the PDM starts its protests and street outreach. To the cynic – and politics in Pakistan has made cynics of most – this opposition effort like ones before it will also fade away or be abandoned to politics of expediency or desperation. To the optimist – or supporters of the opposition parties – this APC is a step away from the kind of caving in they have been seeing from the opposition benches in parliament over the past two years. For now, the people of Pakistan can only wait and see which way the wind blows eventually.



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