A GROUP of nationalist leaders led by MNA Mohsin Dawar have formed a new political party called the National Democratic Movement to promote what they call a “‘secular federal democratic parliamentary system” in the country. The new party comprises well-known politicians and lawyers, some of whom were formerly associated with the ANP. At a press conference to announce the party, Mr Dawar denied the perception that this move would weaken the PTM from whose platform he had contested as an independent and won the election for the National Assembly. He also said that the new party would give representation to the youth and forge greater unity among the oppressed ethnic groups of society.

In a democratic society, the formation of a political party is a fundamental right of citizens and therefore the NDM deserves to be welcomed as the latest addition to a long list of parties in Pakistan. The leaders of this new party have felt that a vacuum exists among the electorate and they can fill it. The party should therefore find the space to pursue its agenda and provide an alternative platform for people to support. Many of the leaders in this new party have had extensive experience of the highs and lows of the country’s politics and espouse a clarity in their beliefs. However, an anti-establishment streak runs through their politics and often they have found themselves marginalised from the mainstream political discourse that defines Pakistan’s politics. It would be interesting to see whether they can utilise the platform of their new party to amplify their political ideology, or frame it in a manner that can widen their support base. The nature of the party will soon become apparent as it starts its membership drive and initiates formal engagements that include taking a position on issues that matter to the voters. The timing of the party’s formation is also significant, coming as it does in wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the imminent formation of the government in Kabul. KP will be impacted by events happening in Afghanistan, and the NDM will have to find its place within the wide spectrum of political thinking that dominates the province. The ANP and other parties in the province now have a new rival and they too will need to hone their political positioning for fear of being outflanked by the NDM. For the voters, having more choice is always better.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2021

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