PDM’s half-hearted track

Return of Shehbaz Sharif to public exposure, after a voluntary hiatus, enabled the PDM to recast itself

August 31, 2021

The opposition’s anti-government movement is back in the news. After months of calm, rather lull, the truncated Pakistan Democratic Movement has hit headlines, as it managed to galvanise a healthy show of strength in Karachi, and vowed to dislodge the government. The success of the rally was primarily owing to Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s constituency of religious cadres and students, as other political forces were thin in attendance. But the inherent setback that the PDM had in its midst was the absence of PPP. The opposition leaders blamed the ruling dispensation for incompetence, and also termed it corrupt and liar. It, nonetheless, stopped short of spelling out a timeline, as it pledged to march on the federal capital.

The return of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to public exposure, after a voluntary hiatus, enabled the PDM to recast itself. Otherwise, the alliance under Fazalur Rehman had become defunct since the PPP’s exit. Likewise, the address of self-exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on video link from London made clear the fissures in the opposition’s rank and file, as he once again castigated the military establishment, and blamed it for all ills. This was the prime bone of contention with the PPP, which believes in the politics of rapprochement. Though Shehbaz Sharif too tried to tread the wavelength of reconciliation, his apparent succumbing to the hardline narrative is anybody’s guess. The future agenda and line of action was, however, undecided as the alliance seemed ambiguous in taking a stance and mapping out a roadmap.

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This brinkmanship of the opposition is unlikely to yield any positive results. First, the PPP is not in conformity over dislodging the government at the fag end of its tenure. Second, the PTI government, despite its slow performance, has won kudos in managing macro-economy, foreign relations, Covid-19 vaccination drive, and last but not least harmony with the military establishment. Third, the nation-state presently is not in a position to go to polls owing to pandemic constraints. The opposition could do well by browbeating the government on the floor of the House, and waiting for general elections with a practical manifesto at hand.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2021.

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