Whose win or defeat reflected by PDM decisions?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:53 PM, 30 May, 2021
Whose win or defeat reflected by PDM decisions?
File photo.

A few days ago, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had underlined the need for national reconciliation, with parliament as the centre of all activities, to navigate the country out of a host of problems facing it.

He even proposed a Charter of Economy – to be hammered out through cooperation between the government and the opposition parties.

What the three-time former Punjab chief minister said manifested that he is opposed to the politics of confrontation and wants the advent of politics of reconciliation, with which he linked the country’s future. 

In his interview there were also indications that Mian Shehbaz would persuade the PPP and the ANP to return to the PDM’s fold, shunning all their reservations. 

In the light of this unusually conciliatory tone used by the PML-N president all eyes were focused on the PDM’s Saturday (May 29) meeting and its decisions

After the summit, it transpired that the participants were of the view that PPP and the ANP were no longer among the constituents of the eight-month-old anti-government coalition. However, it was decided that the opposition parties would cooperate from the platform of parliament. 

This means Shehbaz Sharif’s desire and efforts to make the PPP and ANP part of the PDM once again have not been approved by other components of the opposition coalition.  

The Saturday meeting participants also came up with a schedule of public meetings in various cities, although political observers are of the view that such meetings make little sense after the alliance’s welcome decision to use the forum of parliament for all important decisions in future. 

Though delayed, this is the right decision after which the opposition must apologise to the nation for wasting millions of man-hours in purposeless public meetings during the past few years. 

(Now a protest meeting is scheduled to be held in Swat on July 4, in Karachi on July 29 while a grand event would be held in Islamabad on August 14. The agenda of protest events would be Kashmir, Palestine and other issues. 

It will not be wrong to infer that these meetings are no more than face savers for the opposition, otherwise meaningful protests against the government have come to an end.     

Without an iota of doubt, the importance of the parliament has been recognized by the PDM as a result of the PPP’s efforts. The young chairman of the more than five-decade-old party had opposed the idea of tendering collective resignations from assemblies. (Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also announced that the resignations would be used against the selected government when they have the impact of a nuclear weapon). 

The opposition parties’ unannounced decision to not quit the assemblies – and instead wait for the 2023 elections – clearly means total defeat of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the duo that wanted to dislodge the PTI government in a shot.     

In the absence of any decision from the PDM’s platform about any new long march, it can be expected that peace will prevail during the days ahead. 

(The JUI-F had single-handedly staged a long march on Islamabad shortly after the 2018 elections but had failed to make any mark). 

Before Ramazan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been saying that the alliance would chalk out an effective plan against the government after the month of fasting.  But the alliance’s failure to come up with any such plan now clearly means that the Maulana – impatient to return to parliament by any means – has failed to convince other parties in the coalition about the utility of such a dream. 

These are all positive developments from the national point of view.  

Therefore, it will be in the national interest if the PML-N president convinces his London-based elder brother Nawaz Sharif to bury his confrontationist approach and let the country grapple with other thorny problems. 

For this purpose, it is not necessary for him to travel all the way to the British capital for a face-to-face with the three-time former prime minister. The existing channels of communications between the two brothers can serve the purpose. 

As for the Charter of Economy, the PML-N president should explain its contours for public awareness. Such a move will automatically bring the government under pressure to reciprocate the gesture made by the opposition leader in the National Assembly and take the required steps. 

After the PDM’s decision to wait for the 2023 elections, there is an urgent need for talks between the government and opposition on electoral reforms. 

If the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are not acceptable to the opposition, some alternative should be found to make the next elections credible.  For this purpose, the Election Commission of Pakistan should also play its role.