PPP decisions to bring relief to PTI, disappointment to PDM

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 02:22 PM, 30 Dec, 2020
PPP decisions to bring relief to PTI, disappointment to PDM

The decisions taken by the PPP’s central executive committee after hours of deliberations in Karachi on Tuesday evening will be a matter of great relief/satisfaction for the PTI government and absolute disappointment for the Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties working for the ouster of the present setup.   

Although the PPP is the second-largest component of the opposition coalition on the basis of the number of votes it bagged in the 2018 elections, it has the greatest importance because it has its government in a province (Sindh), a feather no other party in the alliance can boast of.

The CEC meeting was still in progress when some TV channels broke the news that the party has decided to link tendering of its legislators’ resignations to the return of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from London.

The record three-time former prime minister has been staying in the British capital for more than a year. He had gone there for medical treatment but, instead of returning home after appearing absolutely healthy, started a “vote ko izzat do” campaign, aimed at bringing an end to the establishment’s alleged interference in governance. To remote-control his new mission he did not even respond to the court notices requiring his appearance in the courtroom.   

Rallies in various parts of the country, a long march on Islamabad and resignations of the opposition parties’ legislators from assemblies are major components of the campaign aimed at bringing down the PTI-led government and holding fresh elections at a time when the setup has still half of its constitutional term to serve out. 

Resignations are the decisive card the opposition parties can play to make the system dysfunctional and fresh balloting unavoidable. 

In such a situation the news of the PPP linking the resignations’ decision to the return of Mr Sharif from London was unbelievable. 

It was a development that shattered the hopes of the PML-N as it was convinced that after its vice president Maryam Nawaz’s visit to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the death anniversary of assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto, her tributes to the elderly Bhuttos who are not in this world, her sweet talk with Bilawal, the PPP would be left with no option but to stand by the opposition and quit the assemblies. 

But a totally different outcome of the meeting can be equated to the PPP’s masterstroke against the PML-N. Other parties in the PDM will also feel hurt.

The PPP’s highest decision-making body has also resolved to take part in the by-elections on the vacant seats and the Senate elections on more than 50 seats that will fall vacant in March. 

The party also decided to challenge the PTI government through no-confidence motions in the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly. 

Maryam Nawaz heard in disbelief the linking of resignations news with the return of her father from London. 

When reporters approached her for comments, she said she would not offer her views unless the development was reflected in the official statement to be released by the PPP.

After the PPP meeting came to an end and Bilawal addressed a news conference, journalists asked him for his comments on linking the resignations with the return home of Mian Nawaz Sharif, he said he would neither endorse nor deny it.

The response will certainly add to the PML-N’s disappointment

A simple ‘no’ would have satisfied the PML-N. But neither ‘endorse nor deny’ position would only lead the commentators to believe that the PPP is keeping all options open. It also establishes once again that everything is fair in love and war and it would be wrong to take any ally for granted.

In the prevailing situation when the former prime minister is at war with the army and ISI chiefs it is almost impossible for him to return to Pakistan. In case he takes a different decision, he may have to face jail. 

As for the CEC’s endorsement of the PDM decision to collect resignations of parliamentarians by Dec 31, it means nothing. Just collecting the resignations and keeping them in the party’s lockers would be a non-event unless sent to the relevant authorities for further action through the prescribed procedure.  

The decision of challenging the government through no-confidence in the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly is quite interesting. Such moves can be resorted to only when the two houses are there.

It also implies that the PPP lawmakers will be there to exercise the option – something contrary to the PDM leaders’ expectations. 

The decision to contest Senate elections means that the assemblies will be there till the completion of the process.  

Likewise, the participation in the by-elections on the vacant seats clearly indicates that the PPP has no intention to quit the assemblies. Or it makes no sense to take part in the elections today and leave the assemblies tomorrow. 

Who will like to spend huge amounts of money to win the assembly seats that are to be vacated any moment? 

The PPP’s decisions will teach the businessman-turned-politician a new lesson.  

He has been outwitting his allies in the past.  His wife – Kulsoom – was holding meetings with the leaders when the alliance for restoration of democracy was being cobbled against Gen Musharraf.  

Behind the scenes, a deal was being finalized with the same dictator for the banishment of the Sharifs to Saudi Arabia. None in the party or the alliance was aware of deal being negotiated. 

Not many people remember that Nawaz Sharif, as then Punjab chief minister and provincial president of the PML, had also welcomed the dismissal of the Junejo government at the hands of then President Gen Ziaul Haq. 

The PPP’s decisions mean that it would be wrong to assume that one can successfully outsmart others every time.