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May 17, 2021

Opposition and governance

 
May 17, 2021

To a very large extent, successful democracies depend on strong oppositions, capable of challenging the government and correcting its direction when this becomes necessary. But we seem to have a situation where the opposition alliance, the PDM, has ended up becoming a victim of its own ambitions and need for short-term gains. While there is something of a cold war between the PML-N and the PPP in particular, which continue to hurl accusations against each other, at least one faction of the PML-N appears determined to go ahead with attempts to remove the Imran Khan government, through street protests if necessary. The real question now is to what extent Shahbaz Sharif supports such a move, given his relative silence over the issue, and whether other parties within the PDM are ready to offer any support to Nawaz.

The return of Shahbaz Sharif to the scene and his role as head of the party within the alliance opens up some doors, which could lead to an accord of some kind being reached. While Shahbaz is generally regarded as a man who prefers a less confrontational manner in taking up matters compared to Maryam Nawaz, who has created for herself a position as a leader for the PML-N, it is unclear how he will cope with a situation which is already extremely antagonistic. There is also always the eternal question of a ‘deal’ by any of the parties involved. The fact that both the PML-N and the PPP have been calling each other ‘selected’ parties does not help build coordination or harmony within opposition ranks.

At the moment, the PDM is finding it hard to look like a united alliance, with most of them too willing to cast arrows at each other. This is not a good sign and will hurt democracy in the country as well as make it impossible for the opposition, which is engaged in infighting, to keep an eye on the handling of government and the affairs of the nation. And, certainly, governance needs to be tactfully handled in the country – something that has been missing for some time now. There are many issues that need to be tackled and some of these can be handled only with a situation in which across-the-board dialogue is possible. The next actions of the PDM will therefore be closely watched and to a considerable extent determine future political events in the country.