The PPP and the PML-N are now singing from the same hymn sheet. The bitter foes of yesteryear seem serious in burying their differences that dominated the political scene in the country from late eighties through the nineties, and gave rise to severe political uncertainty, hampering progress on issues of governance, foreign relations and trade and investment, as a consequence. The two major political forces of the country — currently in dock — are now looking for ways to get closer to each other. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has taken the first steps on the rapprochement path, paying a visit to the incarcerated former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, to “enquire after him”.
Since the hour-long meeting on Monday, the young PPP chairman has been talking nothing but praise about the PML-N supremo. Bilawal finds no reasons to believe that Sharif has been seeking any behind-the-scene deal to get out of jail on the pretext of a cardiac treatment abroad, as is widely believed.
He sounds confident that the jailed leader is not ready to compromise on principles, and that his party would firmly stick to these principles. The scion of the Bhutto family is “saddened to see a thrice-elected and ailing prime minister languishing behind bars”, calling it a “kind of torture”. And with Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, acknowledging Bilawal’s “thoughtfulness and kind gesture”, the likelihood of the two political parties joining forces in due course of time cannot be ruled out.
This is not the first time that the two parties are looking to enter into what can easily be described as a marriage of convenience, given the hard times both have been going through currently. In 2006, cornered by the then military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, the chiefs of the two parties — while in exile in London — had signed a Charter of Democracy to launch a joint struggle against the dictatorial regime in the country. The two sides seem to be attempting a re-union under the same charter that they had failed to abide by previously.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2019.
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