Of lost agendas and personal gains: the withering PDM

The writer discusses issues facing the PDM where PPP, PDM and PML-N cannot seem to agree on one point. According to the writer, political parties need to reach the next level of maturity as Pakistan has been facing the issue of regional and interest-based politics for too long.

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The 11 parties coalitions against the Treasury bench was thought to have a powerful force. With the initial aim of forcing the government to resign, the movement has been so far divided and failed.

The government is comparatively in a better position despite its costly policies which have caused inflation, unemployment and public rage, to some extent.

Political movements and parties stand on some form of agenda which they try to accomplish. The 11 party coalitions are terming the 2018 election as fixed by the establishment. They term the incumbent government as a selected one and demand its resignation.

Read more: PDM Lahore Jalsa: How big a threat for IK government?

With a common agenda of “vote ko izzat do”, PDM has so far arranged many rallies against the ruling party, gathering thousands of people.

Hopes were high in the opposition as PDM was a group of different parties even having opposite manifestoes, but it soon reached its climax. With lost agenda and prioritizing personal gains, PDM has made its path towards withering.

The recent Senate debacle

The recent Senate election was considered a battlefield in Pakistan. With all eyes on the general seat of Islamabad, the ruling and opposition parties were at loggerhead over the decisive seat.

It was certain that the government would win the seat as it has a majority in the national assembly, but the case turned to be otherwise. The PDM managed to elect their candidate despite having no majority in the lower house.

It showed that some legislatures from the ruling party also cast their vote for PDM candidate. It boosted the morale of PDM workers and put maximum pressure on the government. Soon, the PM asked for a vote of confidence from the lower house and secured the required numbers.

Read more: Behind You Skipper: Imran Khan gets support on ‘vote of confidence’ move

This is not the first time that it is happening in the land of pure people, but is a common phenomenon.

What is needed for PDM to deal with its issues is a pro-people agenda, through which they can appeal to the heads and hearts of people. They need to highlight the rising inflation, the closure of educational institutions and rampant corruption in the country.

This will not only bring the government under pressure but will also bring out people to rallies in support of PDM.

Opposing stances

An issue facing PDM is the difference in the means of pursuing their goals. PPP is in favour of using constitutional and legal means to out the government. It urges the other coalition parties not to strike directly with the government but within the legal limits.

The victory of the PDM candidate on the federal seat in the senate election validated the PPP argument. In the same manner, it favours a vote of no confidence against the CM of Punjab who has a thin majority in the provincial assembly.

On the contrary, the other PDM parties are in favour of complete resignation from assemblies. They want to completely halt the machinery of government and to conduct fresh elections.

One obvious reason that PPP is not in favour of resignation is the Sindh government. PPP doesn’t want to lose the government of Sindh as it is their remaining stronghold.

Read more: Will PPP resign from Parliament?

Direct conflict with the establishment?

Another issue that is hurting the PDM coalition is the question of the establishment. All the parties in PDM are of the view that the deep state was behind the victory of PTI in the 2018 elections. Not only that, but the government is also a puppet of the establishment as it is using the accountability process only against the opposition parties.

The question is how to pressurize the government and establishment so that the opposition can take their part in the running of the state.

The PML-N and its coterie are in favour of a direct clash with the establishment. The speeches of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter against the establishment is a clear manifestation of this clash. They want to downsize the role of the establishment in public eyes and force them to raise their hand from the ruling party.

PPP, on the other hand, is not in favour of direct collision with the establishment. Zardari has made it clear that he is a weak person and he cannot fight the establishment.

Read more: I am a weak person and cannot battle the establishment, Zardari tells PDM

It is also hinting towards “ the selected from Lahore” and make the equation equal by comparing PTI with PML-N. PP knows that it is not in the interest of the party to collide head-on with GHQ as it will hurt the party itself.

Through its experiences, it knows well that good relations with the establishment mean a bright future and vice versa. Why should it endanger the future of its party by opting for a counter-narrative to the establishment?

Difference in interests

The leader of the opposition in the senate is another issue where PDM is divided.

Earlier, it was decided that the candidate for opposition leader would be from PML-N, candidate for senate chairman from PPP and candidate for Vice Chairman in the senate from JUI.

A decision in any movement is binding on all, but it seems that PDM is not sincere in this matter which is a huge issue. PPP has nominated their candidate as the leader of the opposition against the insistence of PML-N. It shows the clear division between the parties in PDM and the difference in their interests.

Read more: Senate Chairman Election: Why PML-N’s Musadik Malik voted against PDM’s candidate?

The political history of Pakistan is muddled with such movements and their eventual downfalls. Whether it was against Bhutto or Musharraf, such movements were thrown out of the court by the internal divisions and conflict of interests.

What does Pakistan need?

The political culture of Pakistan is not ripe for such movements and it has always strengthened the non-democratic forces in the country.

To effectively run such alliances, the political parties need to take public with themselves. Without the support of the masses, movements cannot live for a day.

Read more: Op-ed: Pakistan’s problematic political culture

For this purpose, the coalition parties should base their arguments as per the needs of the people. Politics is indeed a struggle for power, but the struggle should be based on the wishes of people.

Pakistan has been facing the issue of regional and interest-based political parties, but it is time to get the parties to the next level of maturity.

There is a need of a sincere and public-oriented opposition. It should be able to bring diverse people on one platform and work for the betterment of the countryman.

The writer has done Master’s in English Literature and Linguistics from NUML, Islamabad and is currently analyzing international and national affairs. He can be reached at views expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.