Is PPP at the crossroads? | By Riaz Missen 


Is PPP at the crossroads?

PAKISTAN’S third largest political party, the Pakistan People’s Party, seems to be apparently at the crossroads.

It has to choose the path for itself in which, on the one hand, is the opposition coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which has vowed to bring down the ruling party and on the other hand, as a political party, it has its own interests to watch.

The formation of the anti-government coalition and its objectives are clear, which are not less than pushing the country to a premature general election, as well as the factors and actors behind this anti-government movement.

Since the PPP has been ruling Pakistan’s second largest province, Sindh, for the past thirteen years, it falls in its core interests that Parliament should continue and democratic process is not derailed on any account.

There is always gambling before elections, only those political parties are in favour of it which have nothing to lose.

Thus, it is not surprising if the PPP opposes the proposal of other members of the PDM to resign from the National Assembly. After all, the PPP is a free and independent party.

If it does not take care of its own interests, then who else will?
On the other hand, although the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) did not accept the PPP’s argument that the proposed 26 March long march and resignations from the National Assembly should be kept separate, it did not follow the decision of the other nine parties as well.

Despite Asif Ali Zardari calling a spade a spade and demanding the return of Nawaz Sharif to take the protest plan forward or his demanding of post-resignation road-map, the PML-N and JUI-F decided to give the PPP the time to rethink rather than going ahead with the PDM decision.

Thus, the long march, which was marked as the last phase of the movement since the formation of the PDM in November, has been postponed.

This has been done in view of a meeting of the PPP Central Executive Committee in the first week of April in which it will be decided whether to adhere to the PDM strategy or to keep the decision of Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairperson of the PPP, intact.

The PPP’s opposition to the decision of other opposition parties also reveals the rift in the PDM, which, while natural, is certainly surprising in the face of these circumstances.

After all, why do the nine parties think that the opposition should go for en masse resignations from the National Assembly, that too without having a clear post-resignation roadmap, when they know the consequences and also that the PPP does not want early elections.

Continuity of the democratic process is the policy of the PPP not only today but also when Nawaz Sharif was the premier and the PTI was after him.

Then, the PPP’s position was that despite its differences with the ruling party, it was supporting it only so that democracy would not be derailed.

The question also arises as to why the PPP had joined the PDM when it was clear that the agenda of the PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami was not only to dismiss the present government but also premature elections. Now, if the trick is reversed, it will definitely have consequences for the party.

The clearest proof of this is the hateful media campaign that is currently going on against the PPP.

To say the PPP is at the crossroads is not correct a statement. Rather, it is the PDM which is between the devil and the deep sea.

By outsourcing the decision to hold a long march to the PPP Executive Committee reflects its inherent weaknesses.

Not only Nawaz Sharif but also Fazlur Rahman knows well how important it is to keep the PPP inside the PDM camp.

If the nine parties, which linked the resignation from National Assembly with the long march, were worth of their salt, they should have went ahead on protest plan and not cared what the PPP had wanted.

The PPP, actually, is on the course of rise since 2018 elections after it heavily lost during previous polls. It too has gained during the recent by polls and Senate election.

It has to compensate for its losses it concurred while getting others around on 18th Constitutional Amendment.

Though PPP’s loss of South Punjab seems to be permanent, and it’s due to its own making, it has carved out its space while under the leadership of Asif Zardari and is that intent on preserving it on its own.
— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.