The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is at war with itself, it seems. The opposition alliance that was formed last year as an anti-government alliance now seems to be fighting a battle within its ranks.
The two largest parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — have had a falling out of sorts in recent weeks.
While we saw over the months since the formation of the PDM that the PML-N leadership took a rather strong stand on the establishment meddling in politics, the PPP was being cautious when it came to naming anyone directly. The strategies of both parties also seemed to be different, which is understandable given the fact that PDM is a mix of different parties with different ideologies. But one of their common goals was to get rid of the government.
There were of course differences in strategies as to how to do it: the PML-N and Maulana Fazlur Rehman believed in resignations but the PPP believes that it should be done within the democratic framework while remaining in the system. It is understandable that the PPP would not want to resign given that it is the only Opposition party that is in power in a province. It has more at stake in parliamentary system at the moment than other parties of PDM.
These issues have now come back in public again after the recent PDM meeting where former president Asif Zardari asked former premier Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan when the issue of resignations from assemblies was proposed once again by the latter. What ensued was a public war of words. From a tweet by Maryam Nawaz warning PM Imran to be wary of a ‘substitute’ being fostered, to Bilawal Bhutto saying he will not respond to a PML-N vice president’s statement and his party VP could respond.
Then Bhutto-Zardari said a family from Lahore has a track record of being selected, quite obviously taking a jibe at the Sharifs. Things escalated even faster when the PPP went against the consensus decision of PDM on the Leader of the Opposition in Senate being from the PML-N. First they said they do not agree on the name of Azam Nazeem Tarar as he is defending two police officers accused in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case, who have been accused of negligence after her murder.
The PML-N says that if the PPP could have a deputy PM who was directly nominated in BB’s letter, then why would they have an issue with Tarar’s name who is not defending any murderers. The PPP’s Yousaf Raza Gilani recently became the Leader of Opposition in Senate after securing votes from the government’s ally, BAP. Apart from the ANP and Jamaat-e-Islami, the rest of the Opposition parties supported Tarar in Senate.
Now it remains to be seen whether the PDM decides that PPP will remain part of the Opposition alliance or not. The government, it seems, is having fun at the PPP’s expense. However, it is important that instead of this infighting, the Opposition parties should sit with the government and work on electoral reforms, accountability reforms, judicial reforms, among other things. Every democratic government must complete its tenure and bring about reforms.
It is high time that the PDM stop thinking about a change in government and think long term so that it can benefit the system. Any elections without proper reforms would lead to finger-pointing by those who lose. It is important that all parties put aside their differences for the greater good of democracy.