EDITORIAL: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) like the Awami National Party (ANP) before has given a predictable response to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM’s) issuance of a presumptuous show-cause notice, allegedly for violating the alliance decisions – getting Yousuf Raza Gilani elected leader of the opposition in the Senate as well as refusal to tender resignations from the assemblies. After a lengthy discussion at the party Central Executive Committee meeting on Sunday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ripped apart the notice to a thunderous applause and sloganeering by the meeting participants. Speaking on the occasion, he argued that the opposition parties need to show mutual respect; no one has the right to make any independent party accountable for its policies, ideology, and strategy. Subsequently, he announced the party’s decision to quit the alliance.
Indeed, such alliances are formed around a single-point agenda, and decisions are based on consensus. Members have no legal obligation to comply with majority opinion. It may be recalled that earlier ANP Vice President Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had reacted angrily to a show-cause notice, saying only his party president, Asfandyar Wali Khan, had that prerogative, rightly contending that an alliance cannot act like a single party. Although he did not mention any names, Hoti was clearly alluding to the PDM President, JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman – the most vociferous campaigner for the ouster of the PTI government alongside PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz – when he went on to aver that the PDM had been “hijacked” by some of its members for their own interests. Notably, JUI-F is an old ideological rival of ANP in their home base of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The ANP therefore first and foremost has to watch its own interests. Similarly, the PPP, a major party in its own right, cannot be expected to play second fiddle to the PML-N at its own expense.
The young PPP Chairman has shown himself to be an astute politician, making substantive statements on myriad issues facing the people rather than those related to power politics only. Even when faced with provocative remarks by the whimsical PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, he exercised restraint, though not letting the opportunity go by to remind, in indirect but sharp comments, anyone who cared of the questionable track record of her own party for which she made an unverified accusation against him. His party cannot be faulted for securing its interests in getting Gilani elected as leader of the opposition in the upper house, or refusal to give in to the alliance demand to resign en masse from the assemblies. In fact, the demand was a non-starter as a political proposition. If at all the PDM components were to resign from the assemblies, the government would not have fallen. Instead, it could call by-elections for all the vacated seats, compelling the opposition parties to contest the same seats as they have already been doing in various by-elections. However, together the opposition parties can still give a tough time to the government. The PPP has kept its door open to the PDM. The other parties in the alliance would be wise to rejoin hands and play an effective role inside Parliament, as repeatedly suggested by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021