As the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is set to hold protests in major cities of the country despite the COVID-19 second wave holding people hostage, political commentators, analysts, and policy experts are quietly mulling over the possible outcomes of big rallies and large-scale public gathers. Ayaz Amir, a prominent Pakistani political commentator who regularly appears on Dunya TV, has said that the PDM does not have a future. “I am unable to understand their [PDM’s] agenda and program. What do they really want?,” he asked.
Mr. Amir also highlighted the failing state of the economy in Pakistan. “Pakistan’s economic condition is not stable and you expect people to support a narrative which has no practical appeal. PDM’s narrative is only for the elites running this movement,” he maintained.
While narrating the impact of Maryam’s speeches, Amir pointed out that “had the public been with PML-N, people would have come out and stood by Maryam”. “We see it did not happen because there is no serious talk about people,” he said. “Let’s admit the fact that the PDM has no momentum,” he concluded.
Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst who served as Chief Minister of Punjab during the 2018 polls, said during a talk-show on Dunya TV that “the movement will likely involve more rhetoric than action”. Dr. Rizvi was of the view that the opposition parties won’t be able to stay united as many of them have “competing and contradictory interests”.
There is also an opinion that the opposition is likely to fail due to an obvious that it has no anti-government plan. “The opposition will not be able to sell out its narrative. Khan’s government has a success story when it comes to Foreign Relations, it has an exemplary performance when it comes to defeating COVID-19, and Khan’s speeches at the UN made him a hero,” a senior bureaucrat told GVS. The officer was of the view that the opposition could set the agenda on high inflation but that is insufficient to shape an anti-government narrative when the current government seems to have done more than its capacity.
The case of COVID-19 are increasing across the country and the government has banned all sorts of public gatherings.
The same PDM mbrs who had wanted a strict lockdown and criticised me earlier now playing reckless politics with people's safety. They are even defying court orders & holding a jalsa when cases are rising dramatically. https://t.co/nc9KAN0Ihg
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 21, 2020
The PDM, on the other hand, is reluctant to postpone its protests.
While addressing a press conference after PDM’s formal meeting, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister, said the anti-government movement will be launched across the country. “This movement will keep growing and will be successful in ridding Pakistan of this undemocratic process,” said Abbasi, accompanied by other opposition leaders in Islamabad.
Why is PML-N’s leadership desperate to hold talks with the establishment?
The Opposition’s relationship with the government has been patchy since the time PM Khan assumed the office. However, the situation got intense after corruption cases against the Sharif and Zardari families were filed in the courts. An All Parties Conference (APC) was called in Islamabad on September 20 where Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister, addressed the participants and slammed the country’s establishment for political engineering.
However, after holding some rallies and speaking against the armed forces of Pakistan, PML-N seems to be desperate to hold talks with the establishment.
On November 12, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz said that her party is willing to hold talks with the military establishment, however, only under the condition that the PTI government is shown the door. Her remarks came during an interview with BBC Urdu.
After Maryam Nawaz’s demand to the establishment to step in for a “Charter of Democracy”, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a senior leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has asked the judiciary to help politicians initiate a national dialogue to let democracy flourish in the country.
Khawaja Asif was speaking to Asma Shirazi of AAJ News when he suggested the judiciary to play a role in order to end the ongoing anti-government protests under the flag of the PDM.
Political analysts are of the view that the PML-N leadership failed to generate public support for its anti-army narrative which has now forced it to hold talks with the establishment. “PML-N did not get the expected support from the PPP leadership. The game seems to be over now,” a reliable source in PML-N told GVS.