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April 15, 2021

Two opposition alliances to emerge

National

April 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The emergence of two opposition alliances, one comprising eight parties and the other two, has made the break-up of the Pakistan Democratic Movement PDM) a foregone conclusion.

Seven months after its formation, the PDM is on the verge of disintegrating. Ironically, it is differences with the policies of the host of the All Parties’ Conference in which the alliance was set up that has become the major reason for its ultimate division. It was cobbled together with the objective of giving a tough time to the government but its fragmentation has conversely buoyed up the regime, which is rejoicing over the fate that the alliance has met in a short span of time.

The squabbling opposition parties do not realise that the crumbling of the PDM will hurt their collective power and will inflict more harm to them in the days to come. The two alliances will damage the opposition as its groupings will be pitched against each other on public forums instead of putting up a joint front against the government.

One splinter alliance comprises the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUIF), National Party (NP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Aftab Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party, Prof Sajid Mir’s Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Shah Owais Noorani’s Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan.

The other opposition coalition will consist of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP). The Jamaat-e-Islami, whose solitary senator had voted for PPP leader Yusuf Raza Gilani for his nomination as the leader of the opposition in the Senate, is unlikely to join this grouping because of its policy of not being part of any alliance.

The alliance with the larger number of political parties will be a formidable force considering the weight of some of its partners compared to the other group with fewer associates. The united PDM made some impressive gains that had kept the government on its toes. These successes were not possible had the grouping not been unified. One of the foremost dividends was the victory of its candidate, Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the Islamabad seat of the Senate despite the ruling coalition’s majority in the National Assembly. This triumph had compelled Prime Minister Imran Khan to seek a fresh vote of confidence.

The PDM had nearly notched up another big achievement in the Senate chairman’s election but this success was frittered away by the wrong guidance of the PPP leaders to seven senators to stamp Gilani’s name in the ballot paper instead of the box before it.

The split in the PDM has not come out of the blue. It was in the making for quite some time. It has a clear background, and there are clear reasons behind it. But it was precipitated by the PPP’s insistence on having Gilani as the opposition leader in the Senate come what may contrary to its commitment made in the alliance that a PMLN nominee will get this slot. The PPP securing votes from few senators of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), which is an ally of the ruling coalition, was another factor.

The PPP got the votes of the PDM parties in Gilani’s two elections for the Senate offices but when it came to naming the PMLN representative as the opposition leader, it backed down from its promise. The PPP was a beneficiary in the Senate polls because of the PDM’s support.

What turned out to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the issuance of notices by the PDM to the PPP and ANP. The show cause notice sought an explanation for why the two parties had got BAP’s support in violation of the policy of the alliance. The issuance of the notice suggested that the PMLN and JUIF desired to push the PPP out of the PDM because of their strong suspicion and mistrust of its policies.

Prior to that and after the election to the Senate seat and its chairman, bad blood in the PDM was created in its meeting on March 16 when PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari delivered a speech targeting PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif.

Since the word go, the PPP has been opposed to resigning from the assemblies and stressing that no-confidence motions be moved against the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister. The PMLN always considered the PPP’s proposal of sponsoring a no-trust resolution against Usman Buzdar as a trap.

Even before that, less than two months after the constitution of the PDM, Bilawal was on November 6 shocked to hear Nawaz Sharif's speech to PDM’s public meeting in Gujranwala in which the latter had named the top military leadership for orchestrating his ouster, among other things.