Opposition in the crosshairs

The fallout continues from Nawaz Sharif’s bitter speech at the multi-party conference in which he lashed out at state institutions. Now the authorities have decided to go all-out against the opposition leaders as they struggle to start agitation against the government.

In a single day, we witnessed two major developments. PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was arrested by NAB after his bail plea was rejected in a money laundering case. In Islamabad, Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were finally indicted in the fake bank accounts case. This is seen as evidence that a message is being delivered to the opposition that the accountability drive will be strengthened if it attempts to dislodge the government.

Shehbaz Sharif had warned that the government wanted to see him arrested and his fears have come true. The rest of the party is forced to make the hard choice to either side with the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif or the military. Ahsan Iqbal was forced to walk back on his statement that Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the APC was his personal opinion and the party was not opposed to the army. Amid possible warning, he said there is no ideological difference between the party members.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement which was formed after the APC is struggling to name a successor. The JUI-F had suggested the name of Maulana Fazlur Rehman to head the movement. He has not been endorsed by the opposition and even the PPP has opposed naming him to lead the alliance. Maulana Fazl has his own troubles as he has been summoned by NAB. He has vowed not to appear and is planning the first protest march in Quetta next month.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement is being compared to the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), the largest pro-democracy movement in history set up against General Zia’s dictatorship. Such comparisons are rather delusional and will end up in failure. The opposition is not yet united against Imran Khan’s government and remains more divided than ever before.

The opposition has decried that efforts are being made to sabotage the APC and that NAB is working on the behest of the government. These tactics have been used before and it now needs to be seen if the accountability drive will reach its logical conclusion or the opposition will continue to be dragged through the courts just to keep them at bay from challenging the government.

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