ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to dent the ruling PML-N in its political bastion of Punjab, PPP has started to coalesce a strong anti-PML-N alliance of opposition parties with special focus on the ruling party arch rival, the PTI.
In what it calls the potential alliance of ‘progressive parties’, the PPP will woo opposition parties in the coming days. This has transpired after weeklong consultations the PPP had in Lahore during its recently concluded 49th founding day celebrations.
To turn the idea into a reality, the PPP’s top leadership has tasked the senior party leaders to start behind the scene contacts with other parties. The main focus of this proposed alliance is to rope in the PTI.
The PPP’s second tier leadership, especially from Punjab, had been trying to convince their top leadership to review the party’s strategy on the PML-N and the PTI. They had advised to hit the PML-N harder while adopting a ‘softer’ approach towards the PTI to pave way for a possible cooperation.
The PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari along with office bearers of the newly appointed Punjab chapter held detailed deliberations with Aitzaz Ahsan in this regard, sources said. Ahsan is among the PPP leaders who have good connections with the PTI chief Imran Khan and other PTI leaders.
In a closed door meeting held at Ahsan’s residence on Wednesday night, they also discussed the possible outcome of the ongoing legal battle in the Supreme Court between the PML-N and the PTI in Panama Papers case.
There are many people in both the camps favouring cooperation between the two parties. They believe that in case the two sides fail to reach out a formal alliance, they may develop a working relationship that could lead to seat adjustments.
In his speeches during the founding day celebrations, Bilawal also gave a hint for an alliance of ‘progressive parties’. “All opposition parties have to come together if we want to defeat the PML-N in Punjab. By progressive parties we mean all those who want to get rid of Sharif family’s hegemony in Punjab,” a top PPP leader said.
The PPP has already toned down its criticism against the PTI as a goodwill gesture. As the first move towards reconciliation with the PTI, Bilawal hardly mentioned the party and its leadership in the public speeches he delivered during the whole week.
On the other hand, the PPP leaders including their young chairman have started to hit out at the PML-N leadership to shed baggage of being a ‘friendly opposition’.
To formalise the idea of anti-Nawaz alliance, the PPP is likely to convene an APC of opposition parties mainly on issue of Panama Leaks. Whatever decision comes from the apex court on Panama Papers case, the opposition parties will still have enough material against the PML-N for political usage.
Based on statistics from the last general elections that the PPP badly lost especially in Punjab, many in the PPP believe they still have enough vote bank in a number of constituencies where their combined vote with the PTI or other parties can yield seats.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2016.