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April 7, 2021

Open divide

Editorial

 
April 7, 2021

There are no longer any secrets. The multi-party PDM opposition alliance is clearly split, with the PPP backed by the ANP leading one part of the alliance, while the other half belongs to five parties led by the PML-N and JUI-F and also including the National Party, Akhtar Mengal’s BNP and PkMAP. There is now a much more open attack on policies by both sides. For one, the PPP has blamed the PML-N for first agreeing openly that the PPP would gain the seat of opposition leader in the Senate, and then changing this later. It may be noted that at around the same time, the PPP was already moving into the opposition seat presumably with the support of BAP senators. The various parties are no longer holding back words as they attack each other. Bilawal Bhutto has said that the PPP is prepared to go for the opposition alone and does not need support from others. The PML-N has been asked how it intends to overthrow the government without the support of the PPP. Certainly, it is true that an opposition cannot hope to out the government when it is divided amongst itself and when it has sent parties packing from its own alliance rather than holding together. In these circumstances, there is very little chance that the government can be pushed out of the assemblies.

The basic difference is the same as the one that existed before. The PPP is not willing to stage resignations from the assemblies immediately at least, and most likely not even at a later time. It has said it will prefer a no-confidence move in the House, perhaps beginning with Punjab. The PML-N differs with this and seeks resignations. The PPP has also questioned the legitimacy of the show-cause notice sent to it by the PDM during a meeting from which Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the leader of the PDM, was absent due to illness. It has also asked if it is possible for an alliance to divide up in this fashion and for the PML-N to assume leadership. It is clear that the opposition parties are not able to hold together. In this situation, it is also clear that each one is playing for themselves and for their own position in power. We have seen this happen multiple times and it does not come as a new or unexpected move. Is Pakistani politics back to square one or did it never move at all?