The ongoing spat between the PPP and the PML-N is not just a war of words. It is a death knell for the grand opposition alliance. What had started as an intra-party dispute over resignation has now led to a full-fledged war over the office of the opposition leader. A race from which no side is ready to back down just yet. Meanwhile, the threat to those sitting in Islamabad continues to go down like a lead balloon.
The latest to join the intense battle are PPP’s Sharmila Farooqi and PML-N’s Hina Pervaiz Butt. Both took to social media to hurl heated allegations of “snake in sleeve” and the ever-so-savage “selected.” A day earlier, similar floodgates were opened by the scions of two powerful political dynasties. As Maryam Nawaz labelled the PPP leader of being supported by the establishment, Bilawal, in turn, responded by reminding her of those that had first propped up the Sharif family in the 80s. Their political maturity threatens to undo the rosy goodwill that the growing camaraderie had infused in the anti-government movement for the last six months.
Neither party is interested in keeping their fight under wraps. Both are actively lobbying for their candidate for the key Senate post. Meanwhile, political pundits are busy looking at the argle-bargle through the two seniors’ disagreement over en masse resignations. Zardari Senior’s clarion call to Nawaz Sharif could not be any louder. Then again, Maryam asking whether he could guarantee her father’s security did not cut any political ice either. Differences over how to proceed (as a united opposition) have made the situation sharply uncomfortable for those counting on the PDM success.
One of these so-many hopefuls is JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He has been a fixture in Pakistani parliamentary politics since the 1980s. This is the first time he was taking a solo flight in his long record of politics of alliances. Thus, the grand umbrella emerged as a real politic opportunity for him posting him back at the centre of power politics. However, he is always under fire for using every trick in the book just to retain his hands on the hot seat.
Given his constant demand for resignations from assemblies, he appears determined to get rid of the Khan government. This “by hook or by crook” approach feeds into his mysterious appeal. History has seen him shake hands with the unlikeliest of partners. But more pertinent than his crisscross somersaults is his razing of the playing field just because he is sitting the bench. The saffron Maulana is hell-bent on raising the dickens no matter how disastrously it affects the political fabric of the country.
Pakistan has had more than its fair share of sellouts. Hopefully, this time, the elite parties will come to grasp what would actually benefit their vote-banks. Meanwhile, Maryam’s strong-worded inclination for continuity in politics being “the daughter of Nawaz” as well as Bilawal’s dismissal of anti-PDM remarks does indicate that sane voices have finally prevailed. There might be some delay for those hoping for a parting of the ways!