PDM a bleak hope diluted
NEXT general election will be contested once again between decades old political phenomenon and rivals the PMLN and the PPP.
The decisive blow to the PDM came from the PPP, when the Alliance was left with no option but to postpone the scheduled long march for an indefinite period.
The PPP once again argued that resignations from the assemblies should not be linked with the march and should be used as a last resort. When will the last resort be opted? No body knows.
The PML-N and JUI-F had to accept the decision. This stand sowed the seeds of discord between the PPP and the other component parties of PDM.
Both sides have now publicly locked stag horns over the reasons for the deferment of the long march.
The demoralised and weakened PDM faces further destabilisation due to the dispute over the question of the Senate’s opposition leader.
The PML-N, JUI-F and other PDM parties put their votes in Gilani’s basket in the subsequent Senate Chairman’s election.
With only 21 PPP Senators, it was unimaginable for the aspirant to put up such a close fight against the ruling coalition candidate Sanjrani.
As many as 83 MNAs of PML-N and 15 JUI-F MNAs voted for PPP leader Gilani to elect him as Senator defeating ruling coalition candidate Hafeez Shaikh.
This was a significant gain for the PPP. With just 55 MNAs, it was unthinkable for the PPP to win the Islamabad Senate seat.
It became possible only with the backing of the PDM. The principal parties of the opposition coalition bowed to the PPP’s insistence on fielding Gilani to reinforce the alliance.
The PPP has benefited the most from the unreserved support of the PDM, got its way on the decisions the Alliance has taken so far and now insists on securing another prestigious slot of the Upper House of Parliament in contrast to its earlier commitment.
As the row between the PPP and PML-N intensifies, both sides are going to end up with almost equal numbers in the Senate.
This has enabled the PPP to justify and back up their claim to the position of the next leader of the opposition.
The whole controversy within the PDM or mainly between its two principal constituents now revolves around this chair.
The PPP admits that it had agreed prior to the Senate elections that the PDM would support Gilani for the Islamabad seat and the slot of the Senate Chairman and the next opposition leader would go to the PML-N.
It was also part of the deal that the PDM parties would vote for JUI-F leader Maulana Haideri in the contest for the Senate’s Deputy Chairman. Maulana Haideri bagged less votes than Gilani, a fact that has annoyed his party.
The PPP now asserts that after Gilani’s defeat, the situation has changed and it wants the former Prime Minister as the opposition leader.
This is because, the PPP argues, he is the most senior MP and politician and the PPP is the largest opposition party.
Its stand added to the discord in the PDM that had already suffered a great setback because of Asif Zardari’s speech during the last meeting of the Alliance pooh-poohing Nawaz Sharif’s role. The PPP’s primary consideration now is to have Gilani in a top Senate position.
The relations between PPP and PML-N have further started deteriorating. It will be very difficult for the PDM to remain intact with its full impact on the Imran Khan government.
A clear message by the PML-N and JUI-F is that they will go ahead with their protest campaign even without the PPP and their drive is not reliant on support from it.
At this stage the damaging splits in the PDM are certainly good news for the Imran Khan government.
According to the emerging numerical picture, both the PPP and PML-N now have similar support to stake a claim for the position of the opposition leader in the Senate.
The PPP claims to have garnered the backing of a total of 25 Senators, 21 members of its own and two Senators each of the ANP and BNP-M.
It will struggle to secure the lone vote of the JI to take its tally to 26. Bilawal is putting in great efforts to see Gilani as the opposition leader.
On the other hand, the PML-N claims that it has as many as 26 members behind it.
They included 17 Senators of its own, five votes of the JUI-F and two Senators each of the NP and PKMAP.
The PPP wants to get maximum advantage to boost its political profile in order to quash the impression that it has been marginalised at the national level and lost its past glory.
In the past, the PPP’s stance has always dominated the key decisions taken by the PDM more than that of any other component party.
During last few months PPP had come on front seat of the PDM leaving Maulana behind. This approach kept diluting the extent, tempo of the agitation and unity of the PDM.
When the Alliance had planned to reinforce its protest campaign, the PPP showed its obstinacy that the national and provincial by-elections and Senate polls should not be boycotted as it would be imprudent to let the political rivals occupy the electoral arena single-handed. The PML-N and JUI-F acquiesced, though unenthusiastically.
This provided a handle to the ruling coalition to ridicule the PDM by pointing out that on one hand the opposition is threatening to quit the assemblies and on the other it is contesting the by-elections.
As a matter of fact the PDM parties won all the other by-elections except a former tribal by-poll in the former tribal areas. The PDM as a bleak hope of the nation has been diluted.
PDM is targeted by Zardari or hidden hands? By weakening PDM who made the task easier for Imran Khan and his “friends”.
During last march of Maulana to Islamabad Nawaz Sharif confirmed his safe flight to London and before recently scheduled march Asif Zarfari attained advantages, multiple reliefs and assurances for near future.
During PDM processions Zardari proved himself as an alternative choice of the power house.
One after the other Zardari is eased in cases against him. Quitting of Uzair Baloch in different cases reflects the whole story.
By moving two steps forward and one backwards Zardari kept both PDM and powerful house engaged at the same time.
He mounted pressure on both PDM and the power house, confirmed role of Bilawal for the next set up and found the sigh of relief for himself.
Maulana and Nawaz Sharif will continue joining hands ahead with hawkish politics to cultivate more popularity out of anti-Imran and anti-establishment sentiments.
Next general election will be contested once again between decades old political phenomenon and rivals the PML-N and the PPP.
—The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.