The PDM is a divided house. Well, it was bound to be. The issue of resignation from the assemblies was a pretty visible fault line within the 10-party opposition “union”. And the jolt came in the shape of the postponement of the alliance’s anti-government long march scheduled to start from March 26. A five-hour long meeting in Islamabad of the heads of PDM member parties turned out to be an exercise in futility as it failed to evolve a consensus on resigning from assemblies en masse as part of the their strategy to send the government packing. To state it in the right words, nine PDM parties failed to convince the PPP on the resignation issue.
The PPP was always the odd one out — being the only constituent in the opposition alliance with stakes in the current parliamentary system. The party single-handedly leads the government in Sindh province, and it’s pretty understandable for it to not agree to let go of it — unless of course anything better is guaranteed. On the contrary, no other party in the political conglomerate has anything to lose if the system goes. While all others — like the PML-N, the JUI-F and the ANP — are outsiders looking for fresh elections to get in, the PPP is unlikely to get anything notably more than it already has.
It has been the PPP’s divergent position — on a strategy to send the government home — that rendered the alliance to a confused lot. The Bilawal Bhutto party has been the sole reason behind the lack of unanimity of thought and action within the alliance. The alliance leaders thus kept blowing hot and cold — like, announcing a boycott of the Senate elections and then taking part in them; and changing long march schedule over and over again.
Where will the PDM go from here? Frankly speaking, nowhere! Wouldn’t it have been better for the PDM to have shown a little more political maturity and played the role of a genuine opposition, by avoiding confrontational politics and pressing the government for true electoral reforms instead? The option, in fact a way-out, is still there. The Prime Minister has himself extended an olive branch to the opposition as he plans to bring electoral reforms.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2021.
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