THE stronger a party is, the more likely it is that it will face the challenge of a broad-based alliance — in this case a 10-party patchwork in Sindh. The pieces on their own may militate against one another, but they stick together when confronted by a common enemy. Of the parties in the country, the PPP is particularly good at uniting its opponents on a single platform. Its opponents in Sindh are once again trying to discover if this is the vulnerable moment they had been waiting for. Their thinking must be aided by reports of the difficulties the PPP faces in other provinces. As the PPP’s partners in government after the 2008 polls, both the ANP and MQM must also answer tough questions about the failures of the last government which the Sindh alliance is ostensibly trying to exploit. The strange mix is not without its predecessors. So what if it comprises parties that are far from allies elsewhere, such as the Jamaat-i-Islami and JUI-F in KP? That has happened in the country before, with old alliances paling before the uniqueness of the ever newer ones.
All these mutually ‘incompatible’ elements in the 10-party front appear to justify their coming together by creating imaginary divisions in the provinces. For instance, for the ‘more progressive’ components in the alliance, Karachi may exist in a distant zone away from their own realities, where the JI — and to some extent the PML-N — can be allowed to dictate the alliance’s politics. The upper areas of Sindh, by contrast, bring together under one umbrella a few ‘electables’ craving to somehow overtake the PPP. Some nationalists and a few sect-based outfits have been thrown in to give the shop a more wholesome look but in the end it could well be about the candidates of the PML-N, the National Peoples Party and the PML-F in the upper parts with the JI asserting its right to have a go at the Karachi seats.