Wednesday August 17, 2022

Strange alliance

By Editorial Board
December 28, 2017

Even allowing for the reality that politics makes for strange bedfellows, the burgeoning alliance between the PPP, PTI and Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek is difficult to digest. Unlike Qadri and the PTI, the PPP has pretty much held the position that the government should complete its tenure. What they do have in common though is that the PPP, whose support is restricted to rural Sindh, and the PTI – which hasn’t managed to make the kind of inroads it hoped it would – both fear that they will not be able to achieve power on their own and that the PML-N may even retain power after the next elections. For Qadri, who has no electoral base of his own, elections are of no concern. Other than that, there is precious little that binds these three. The PTI and Qadri make for natural allies since both have a history of working together and prefer the politics of dharnas to that of governance. But Qadri had led his first dharna against the PPP in 2007 and even claimed credit when its prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court. Ironically, the PPP has been reminding everyone of how the PML-N had supported Gilani’s removal. That it is now willing to work with Qadri represents a significant shift. Imran Khan’s U-turn on working with Zardari is equally strange. Since 2008, Imran has railed against the corruption of the PPP. While he has flirted with the PPP even in the recent past, he has always pulled back at the end. Qadri, as he has shown many times before, has no interest in the perpetuation of the political order. He is only here to disrupt the government and, as always, will surely call for the deployment of extra-constitutional means to do so. That these parties seem to now be willing to work together shows that professed principles are always trumped by the personal ambitions of some politicians.

The stated claim of all three parties is that both Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Home Minister Rana Sanaullah resign for their alleged roles in the Model Town killings. Shahbaz, in particular, has become an important scalp after Nawaz Sharif announced he would be the PML-N’s next prime ministerial candidate. But the correct procedure for assigning guilt is through the court, where the matter is still pending. Where this alliance can still be a matter of conjecture for analysts depends on whether all three parties take to the streets. The PPP’s past view has been wary of the system being destabilised through extra-constitutional means. If the PPP and the PTI now work together towards that very end it would demonstrate the farcical nature of both their politics and this alliance.