THE PPP’s formal resignation from all offices of the PDM comes as no surprise after weeks of tension and public acrimony between the various parties of the opposition alliance. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari minced no words in criticising the PML-N leadership for issuing a show cause notice from the platform of the party. In response, PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman summoned a meeting of the alliance on Tuesday and afterwards told the media that the alliance would forge ahead regardless of PPP office bearers’ resignations. The alliance’s secretary general Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had earlier said that he did not foresee the PPP remaining in the PDM. The alliance is clearly in the process of becoming dysfunctional.

When all the opposition parties had gathered in Islamabad in September last year to form the PDM, they had drawn up a lengthy charter of objectives. However, the only real agenda that united them in this alliance was to see the back of the PTI government. It was a glue that held them together but within a few weeks it had started to become clear that there were deep divisions between the PPP and PML-N when it came to operationalising this objective. The public rallies and congregations created a certain momentum for what was billed as the final blow to the government through a long march to Islamabad and combined resignations from all the assemblies. The internal contradictions within the parties in the alliance bubbled to the surface before the movement to oust the government could reach a climax. There are competing explanations about who cast the first stone but once the unravelling started, there was not much that anyone could do to stop it. The leadership of the two main parties could have, if it wanted to, confined their disagreements to internal meetings but it is fair to assume now that a deliberate choice was made to go public. Party interests, it appeared, had overwhelmed those of the alliance. The PDM may remain on the political landscape as a hollowed-out structure, but as a political entity it bears little relevance to the situation on the ground. The PPP has made its choice to go it alone and the PML-N will now have no choice but to do the same. With general elections a little more than two years away, both parties have enough time to chart their own directions.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2021

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