What’s next for PDM?

Muhammad Naeem Qureshi

The writer is a researcher and columnist.

After the Senate elections, pro-PML-N and anti-establishment analysts are portraying the situation as if all PDM parties, except PPP  and Maulana Fazlur Rehman including, are struggling for the people worried about inflation and against the forces pulling the reins of power whom they claim are responsible for Imran Khan’s government.  Except for the rhetorical speeches, the truth is far from reality.

What transpired during Chairman Senate election and how the PPP eventually managed to get Yousuf Raza Gilani appointed as Leader of Opposition has left the analysts bewildered. It has become crystal clear that all PDM parties are now complacent with the same forces that Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Nawaz Sharif slammed in their aggressive speeches and are attempting to regain power under their patronage.

The PDM parties have their own political interests and will not hesitate from making any attempts to achieve them. The PPP believed that since the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly belongs to PML-N, it has the right to opposition leader in Senate. Since Maryam Nawaz was not supportive of this ideas, the PPP went outside the PDM (read BAP) and just with the help of some secret buttons got the support of thirty senators overnight.

Several other efforts are being made by other parties outside the PDM. There are rumours of covert meetings by Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz which have not been denied. PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman can also gain some political leverage if he joins hands with higher powers.

Now Maryam wants all the opposition parties, including PPP, to remain under her wing and follow instructions to keep PDM intact. This is certainly not possible for a party like the PPP which can cooperate on political issues but cannot stand behind Maryam with their hands tied.

Amid the growing rift, the PPP decided to join hands with Hamza Shahbaz for an in-house change in Punjab and primarily to get rid of Maryam’s influence. Maryam is reluctant to oust Chief Minister Punjab because in case the no-confidence succeeds, Hamza Shehbaz would grab the coveted post. This would not be pleasing for Maryam and will create serious repercussions for the PML-N politics. It would also make Hamza the centre of attention and he will run affairs differently from the aggressive politics of Maryam. This will jeopardize the agenda that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam want to set together. Maryam will attempt to prevent the PPP’s proposal to bring no-confidence in Punjab from being implemented.

After Gilani’s election as opposition leader, an impression has been given that the PPP is adopting an unprincipled stand. It is hard to comprehend which political party including PML-N and JUI-F is showing political maturity or distancing themselves to uphold democratic traditions. Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maryam Nawaz are now in the race for power just for criticising the government’s performance without providing any alternate solutions. These so-called champions of democracy are also advising the PPP to join other PDM parties to overthrow Imran Khan’s government by undemocratic means.

The question remains why will the PPP become part of such plans. Zardari a very shrewd politician and his past dealings with the PML-N have been rather unpleasant. Will he benefit more if Imran Khan falls? The PPP is well aware that the PML-N will gain from Imran Khan’s declining popularity in Punjab and weakening of Buzdar. In a situation where Bilawal is now calling for Hamza Shahbaz to be the next chief minister, it is a tragedy that PML-N’s politics revolves around Nawaz Sharif and Maryam. They certainly have a grudge against Imran Khan but also can’t bear seeing Shehbaz and Hamza in any position. It needs to be seen if the PDM’s politics will lead to any more differences and conflicts.

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