In the chilly evenings of the Federal capital there is one burning issue being widely discusses; the possibility of a grand opposition alliance. The man who can potentially make this happen is none other than the person who many regard as a maestro of political maneuvering, the co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari. With elections just a year and a half away the general feeling is that the Pakistan People’s Party desperately needs to get rid of the ‘friendly opposition’ tag, the party simply cannot go into the next elections without taking the Federal government head on.
The party’s position in the all important province of Punjab with respect to the elections is still in tatters. The party was virtually wiped out from the province in the 2013 elections with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf replacing it as the only ‘genuine’ opposition. Bilawal’s ingress into politics was seen as a move aimed at recapturing Punjab; however the hopes in this regard have all but evaporated. All eyes are once again on former President Asif Ali Zardari, who recently came back to Pakistan after a self imposed exile of nearly eighteen months. Just a couple of days after returning to the country the Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman met with Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Shujaat has hinted at formation of a grand alliance after his talks with Asif Ali Zardari, with the aim of making sure that elections are held earlier than expected.
The grand alliance for now seems unlikely as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan who can play a key role in any such alliance still adamant that Asif Ali Zardari is the ‘government’s guy’, and Pakistan People’s Party nothing but ‘friendly opposition’. Other key parties with street power like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Awami National Party also need impetus going into 2017 with elections getting nearer. However, bringing all these diverse parties with diverse aims appears to be an uphill task. There’s also the small matter of the four demands put forth by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the threat of street protests. Bilawal’s four demands, to re-constitute a parliamentary committee on national security, to pass Panama Bill drafted by Pakistan People’s Party, to implement the resolution regarding CPEC, to immediately appoint the foreign minister are also seen by some analysts as smoke-screen to some behind the scene demands, which could potentially be an easing-up of operation in Karachi (which the Pakistan People’s Party believe has been used for political purpose), some deal regarding the cases of Dr Asim and Ayyan Ali.
Despite the behind the scene political maneuvering the government for now holds the position of utmost strength. Be it the Dawn leaks saga or the Panama Papers issue the government is confident that it will whether the storm. The hearing of the Panama case will begin again in January; the verdict of the case could potentially be the decisive factor in how political parties shape up leading up the next general elections. As far as the performance is concerned, even the governments strongest critics agree that it has outdone all other parties in terms of development initiatives. The opposition including the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is the one in need of some momentum. The infighting among political parties has also greatly helped the ruling party, the grand alliance being discussed could pose trouble for the government but that is still a vague sketch.
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