The rise and decline of opposition alliance

The opposition currently poses little threat to the government inside or outside Parliament. The PDM, which had effectively challenged the government for months, is dead thanks the internecine rivalries between the PM-N and PPP. The PML-N which is the largest opposition party in the NA stands divided over whether to take a conciliatory or a confrontational stand. In case the division persists, some of its current MNAs might decline to apply for its ticket in 2023 elections. The PTI government has meanwhile emerged stronger than any time before. The government, however, has no reason to rejoice. At a time of great regional upheaval, and need for policies that are likely to have consequences for years ahead, a dysfunctional working relationship between the government and the opposition remains a major obstacle in the way of formulating widely acceptable strategic policymaking.

A shrinking democratic space led the opposition to form Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). Within three months the new alliance held eight massive rallies in all the four provinces. The PDM’s growing focus on the security establishment marked a major change in the country’s political environment. This led to the opening of the doors that had remained closed so far. Then came disclosures that the opposition leaders were regularly meeting the army chief leading to the revival of old suspicions between the PPP and PML-N.

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When the PML-N made the unrealistic demand that all PDM constituents jointly resign from the NA, knowing well that PPP that ruled Sindh would not resign, this amounted to the wrecking of the PDM. PTI’s tricky move to acquire the office of the Senate Opposition Leader with the help of pro-government Senators created more bad blood. Both in Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, PML-N and PPP fought as much against one another as against the government.

The PML-N is badly divided, with one section demanding conciliation while another supporting confrontation. The PPP faces the threat of PTI making entry into rural Sindh. Unless the opposition parties sit together to evolve a joint strategy, which seems unlikely, the PML-N may be deprived of some of its electables in 2023 elections while the PPP might lose seats in rural Sindh.

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