Efforts are afoot to breathe new life into the PDM, with the group’s leaders holding a meeting after a gap of several months. Although specific details from the meeting were not offered, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also the PDM president, said at a press talk that the group’s leadership would meet in Islamabad on August 21 to discuss implementing the recommendations made this week. He also said the group would hold a rally in Karachi towards the end of the month.
Fazl’s presser suggested that the discussion primarily revolved around ensuring that the 2023 elections are transparent — a marked shift from their previous goal of bringing down the government. It is, however, a more realistic one, especially given that there is still no proof that the PPP will fully rejoin the PDM. The PML-N remains the only major player at this time. At the same time, Fazl suggested that future public events would focus on issues such as inflation and heavy taxes, which are easy for any opposition party to get behind. And even though he appeared to agree with the government’s broader goals in Afghanistan, he called out the government for ‘hiding’ relevant information from parliament.
On the election front, it appears the PDM is focusing on electronic voting machines (EVM), which rank high on the PTI’s wishlist but have been a cause of great concern for opposition parties. This, again, is a strong issue to focus on, since mistrust of EVMs is a global phenomenon, and some countries, including ‘strong’ democracies in Europe, have outright banned several types of EVMs, citing the potential for tampering. Unfortunately, the hard public stance of opposing all of the PTI’s proposed election reforms is going to be problematic for other PDM members.
As we said, Fazl and the JUI-F are not the big players in the alliance. The PML-N and PPP, on the other hand, see themselves as realistic candidates to replace the PTI one day. To do this, they need to behave like actual political parties and show maturity by compromising with the government in certain areas rather than blindly opposing everything.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2021.
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