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End of PDM

Two major opposition parties – ANP and PPP – have quit the PDM, making it even more ineffective and rather dysfunctional. Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maryam Nawaz, both unelected leaders, have been left alone with the herculean task of taking the government head-on.

The expectations were already not high when the opposition parties decided to create a unified bloc to confront the government. It was widely speculated that the alliance would not last long as it comprised of parties with varying ideologies. It was perceived that the confrontational politics of the 90s were over and the young leadership of the PPP and PML-N – Bilawal Bhutto and Maryam Nawaz – have a new approach. It was also a rare sight to see religious parties on the same stage as other parties. There were brief moments when it held large gatherings and issued provocative speeches. However, it was not long before fissures began to develop which eventually dismantled the entire alliance.

Six months on, the two mains parties have been trading barbs against each other. The PPP and PML-N tussled over several petty issues but the divisions were more apparent. The PDM failed to reach consensus on wide range of issues. It could not decide over resignations from the assemblies or holding the much-anticipated long march. Neither could it hold a joint strategy for Senate elections and by-polls and was not seen as an electoral alliance. The last nail in the coffin was when PDM issued show-cause notices to ANP and PPP for not acting on consensus decision and taking a solo flight.

It needs to be pondered what went wrong with the PDM. The cracks within the alliance first emerged when Nawaz Sharif openly confronted the top military brass. The PPP soon distanced itself as it was not ready for the task and was more focused on ousting the prime minister. After Nawaz was barred from TV speeches and the rallies fizzled down, the PDM had to form a strategy to tackle the government but in vain. The situation was aggravated by Nawaz Sharif’s prolonged stay abroad and being outsmarted by Zardari.

It would be early to speculate whether any clandestine deals have been made with these parties to either accommodate them in the next government or soften the accountability process. The PPP had a lot at stake and wants to reorganize itself. It is evident that PDM is now irrelevant and will soon fizzle down as parties seek their vested interests.