Democratic movement?

Gathering of all opposition parties was an achievement, given that they had had many failed attempt at joining forces

September 21, 2020

With the opposition’s “all-party” conference on Sunday, politics in the country is now boiling hot. The PPP-hosted event — a who’s who of opposition leaders, including three-time former prime minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif — culminated into the formation of Pakistan Democratic Movement, or PDM, whose agenda is to overthrow the “unrepresentative” government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. An 11-party alliance, the PDM has issued a 10-day ultimatum for the PM to resign or face a three-phased anti-government movement, with countrywide public meetings starting next month; protest demonstrations and rallies in December; and a “decisive long march” towards Islamabad in January 2021.

The eight hours or so long conference featured key opposition leaders addressing the nation — with almost all presenting a charge sheet against the incumbent government and, what they called, their sponsors. Nawaz, who is currently in London and had a virtual presence in the Islamabad event — was particularly hard hitting. The 26-point declaration adopted on the occasion, demands, among others, “fresh elections in a free and fair manner after carrying out electoral reforms; end of establishment’s interference in politics; release of all political prisoners; implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism; withdrawal of cases against media-persons; speeding up of CPEC projects; and across-the-board accountability under a new accountability law”.

The gathering of nearly all opposition parties under one roof was quite an achievement, given that they had had many a failed attempt at joining forces against the government right since the election of President and PM, and most recently during the Azadi March led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman. That way, the opposition has passed the first test — of getting united. However, the next and the most important step would be to stay united — which is where a big question mark hangs given the fact that nearly all parties in the alliance — especially the major ones like the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F — have conflicting views and agendas. Staying intact is indeed a big challenge for the opposition parties whose recent political conduct does not hold much promise.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2020.

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