Karachi’s PDM rally shows deep division in PPP and PML-N

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Salahuddin Haider

POLITICAL pundits thinking Karachi was country’ s biggest city, with 25 million souls, expected the Mazare Quaid-e-Azam rally of Sunday evening, to draw a bigger crowd, but must have been disappointed as the crowd was almost same, 18000 to 2,0000. This obviously a reflection on host PPP, for their management left much to be desired. It will be branded as bais if we tried to undermine the Quaid-e-Azam rally. The crowd was respective if not bad, but the essential factor which was noticed almost by every one was the vast difference in thinking and approach of the PPP and PML-N.
Peoples party as principal sponsor had decorated the main thoroughfare in Clifton, near the Defence Society, M A Jinnah road, and the connecting, linkages, but perhaps not very happy with the administration’s decision to start carpeting roads, demanding repairs for months together, on the day of the ally.
The principal participants Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, learning from their mistakes at the opening rally in the Punjab heartland, made it a point to be at the venue by 8 pm, which was most suitable time. But their speeches remained lackluster. Yet for differences between the three main speakers’ speeches once again began, almost after 9. 30 p.m. Maryam Nawaz, flying in here from Lahore, was subdued for not allowing the management to relay Nawaz Sharif’s speech.
While Noon League clearly looked in confrontation mood with the army and ISI chiefs, was unhappy, and delivered a speech which lacked cohesion, rhythm and devoid of punch, which is she too fond of.
He addressed mostly Karachiites, carefully avoiding any reference to Punjab where undoubtedly Noon League is still in command as far voters are concerned.
It was evident that Karachi since 1970 when General Yaha Khan held the first elections, never really stood for Peoples Party. Reason of this antagonism was hard to assess, but in the last 10 12 years since PPP has been in power in Sindh, recruitment of Urdu speaking people have been deliberately ill-treated in government jobs, and also in admission of professional colleges like Down Medical, Sindh Medical colleges whose exams are now reportedly being held in Hyderabad. Why? The question seeks answer.
Even in 2018 elections Peoples Party could bag just three seats out of 21 for the national assembly, while PTI had bagged 24 in the provincial legislature, and 14 at the national level. MQM this year had to remain content with just 4 national assembly seats, and reserve seat for Lady Kishwar Zehra, and one from Hyderabad. That showed the votes in the past went for Altaf Hussain and not for MQM.
The crowd in Karachi, consisted hardly 5 percent locals, majority gathering was from Lyari, or Malir which is PPP stronghold, or the interior, Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Sanghar, Larkana, and Nawabshah now named as Benazirabad. That obviously did not respond to frequent calls from Maryam for support to Noon League or Nawaz Sharif? Bilawal on the other hand, read out a prepared text, but did not get some response from the crowd
It was obvious that Maryam’s desire to allow Nawaz Sharif to address the rally through video-link, was disapproved by Peoples Party bosses, who do not want to pick up quarrel with army or the ISI. Nawaz Sharif in his infinite wisdom, had lambasted General Qamar Bajwa and ISI chief General Faiz Hamid. That obviously People Party never wanted to repeated at Karachi rally of Sunday evening. If Nawaz Sharif has a grouse to settle with army bosses, Peoples Party wanted to be soft, lest they may be forced to pay a much heavier price, which is surely their strategy.
Zardari must still be looking for some sort of compromise. Whether he is heeded is difficult to judge at this time. Zardari is not only clever, but also cunning than others. He knows how to play his cards, While Nawaz and Maryam are full of personal vendetta. This was no secret for Mayam in her Sunday evening speech made it clear that there was vast difference between criticizing institutions, and a few ambitious Generals. He kept harping on that tune, never relenting on the sensitive issue.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman confirmed for the first time that he was asked to recognize the PTI government of Imran Khan, but he said he stood to his ground. But what Maulana in a meeting with Qamar Bajwa said to him is a major story by itself, which he would never like to be leaked to general public.
His speech was more of rhetoric, except few references of appeal to army to stop supporting Imran. In the two rallies, the Pakistan Democratic Movement held so far, their stance was vituperative, except of Maryam which appeared subdued and concentrated mostly on instigating Karachiites to disown Imran Khan and throw him out of power. The crowd remained silent to his repeated appeals.

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