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January 12, 2016

10-party alliance poses little threat to PPP in Sindh

Lahore

January 12, 2016

ISLAMABAD

The just-fashioned ten-party alliance against the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in Sindh poses no serious threat to its target for being politically inconsequential.

The Pir Pagara Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi-led coalition has in its fold a few political heavyweights, who, however, do not enjoy mass public appeal across Sindh if the successive general elections are any indication. Some of them have small pockets of influence. Their combined numerical strength in the Sindh assembly is too scanty to create any problem for the otherwise beleaguered provincial government.

The most significant omission in the fresh alliance for different reasons is exclusion of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which certainly relish much better public standing than that of most of the components of the new coalition put together.

As a matter of policy, the PML-N and PTI were indecisive to jump on the bandwagon while the organisers chose not to invite the MQM for its stand on making Karachi a province. The assemblage comprises only those parties and individuals, who have some say in the interior parts of Sindh.

Although the Sindh government feels cornered because of the Rangers’ drive against allegedly corrupt elements in Karachi, the new grouping is unlikely to make it pass sleepless nights. In reality, the PPP has always faced the forces, which are part of the alliance, in consecutive parliamentary polls and defeated them hands down. Just a few weeks back, it routed them in the local government elections despite having its public profile lowest ever across Pakistan since its creation.

Obviously, the Sindh chapter of the PML-N stayed away from the alliance on instructions from its central leadership, which doesn’t want to give any wrong message to the PPP that is already very exasperated with it for various reasons. The PML-N doesn’t want to infuriate the PPP further through moves like this one.

Speculations have often been made to vote out the PPP in the Sindh Assembly, which seem to be part of a campaign to further rattle this party. Such conjectures are based on the assumption that there will be substantial desertions in the PPP, enabling a no confidence motion against Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah. But all this appears to be a pipedream as the PPP continues to be a solid, cogent force at least in Sindh where it doesn’t face any noteworthy cracks.

Even if this alliance breaks bread with the MQM, which is the second largest party in the Sindh assembly, it will be unable to have enough numbers to oust the PPP government through a no-trust resolution. The PPP’s hold on the provincial legsilature is so impressive that it has the requisite numerical power to remain in government single-handed, without the support of any parliamentary group.

While the PPP is not scared of the influence and capacity of the ten-party coalition, its real worry is how to convince the federal government about its stand on the Rangers’ special powers. Since the differences erupted between the two governments over this issue, the PPP has shown desperation to iron them out in a way that its standpoint is accepted. However, the federal government is unwilling to buy it.

Instead of paying too much attention to the weight and worth of this grouping, the PPP will continue to be focused on its relations with the federal government. Its woes will hype if there is more tension between the federal and provincial administrations.

Liaquat Jatoi, Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Syed Ghous Ali Shah, who are part of the new alliance, had become the chief ministers in the past in peculiar situations when the PPP was denied a level playing field otherwise it was almost impossible that they would have secured the top offices.

They had graced these slots once each, but subsequently whenever relatively fairer elections were held, the PPP carried the day, leaving them far behind. They look forward to the vain hope of return of the old days, somehow or the other.

In Sindh, if the PPP is politically isolated, so are the MQM, PML-N and PTI there as they are neither cooperating among themselves nor is any other party willing to collaborate with either of them. The bitterness is too acute to persuade them or any other political force to sit under one roof.