News Analysis |
Former President, Asif Ali Zardari has hinted at the possibility of entering into an alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the conclusion of the upcoming elections. Addressing a gathering in Lahore on Friday, the Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Part (PPP) expressed that the alliance with Imran Khan was only for the Senate elections, but hastened to add that if needed, an alliance can be formed again.
While quoting the adage, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”, the 62-year-old politician asserted that there was a necessity in the Senate and if there is a necessity, an alliance must be formed with PTI. In this regard, Zardari might have enlisted and supported Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf through his statements but, there is a trap in his outlandish commentary.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been able to elect the person of its choice in the Senate elections with the support of Pakistan Peoples Party, to shame the candidate of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). Sadiq Sanjrani, who is politically a neophyte as compared to his peers, was elected as the person of choice. This was due to the fact that Imran Khan wanted to have the upper hand over his arch-rival, Nawaz Sharif and therefore, forged an invisible alliance by supporting an independent candidate.
The December statement was negated after the Senate elections, primarily due to the fact that PTI wanted to lesson PML-N and was apprehensive of any legislation that could have paved way for Nawaz Sharif to return to the house.
Imran Khan justified this by citing the Baloch grievances. The alliance was no more invisible in the case of Salim Mandviwala, who was a candidate of Pakistan Peoples Party but bagged votes of PTI’s lawmakers as well. After having secured the top slots in the Upper Chamber of the Parliament, PTI tried to distance itself from PPP.
The strategy employed in the Senate elections was cunning as well as smart as PTI was able to prove that it knew the political tactics in the power-game. Not only did the Senate elections consolidate PTI’s position as a sound political force but the meetings of Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, with Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari solidified the perception that PTI and PPP were on a road to unison – against Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz.
With this in mind, The Senate elections provided the ruling PML-N with an opportunity to accuse PTI of being a b-team of PPP. The Chief Minister, Shehbaz Sharif termed the parties ‘two sides of the same coin’. While on the other hand, Imran Khan has been vehemently trying to taper off the perception that he will join hands with Zardari for securing power.
In countless speeches, Imran Khan has been firing broadside at Asif Ali Zardari in much the same fashion as he treats Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz. However, the Senate episode raised the eyebrows of political observers whether the cricketer-turned-politician, who was against corruption and was not alleged of corrupt practices, actually forged an alliance with Zardari – derogatively termed as Mr. 10 percent, a reference to his supposed share in development projects.
Addressing a gathering in Lahore on Friday, the Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Part (PPP) expressed that the alliance with Imran Khan was only for the Senate elections, but hastened to add that if needed, an alliance can be formed again.
The recent statement of Asif Ali Zardari are two folded. At one end, Zardari is trying to dent the reputation of Imran Khan through the probability of an alliance, while on the other hand, he is trying to get close to the power corridors. Due to the firm stance of Imran Khan against corruption and the respecting of the state institutions, he has gained the confidence of influential power corridors,, which the PPP Co-Chairman is eyeing in hope of sharing the trust, through the former skipper. In any case, Imran Khan will be on the downside and Asif Zardari has nothing to lose.
Therefore, the possibility of an alliance between PPP and PTI seems unlikely as both the parties have their stronghold in different regions. Pakistan Peoples Party has its bastion in Sindh, where PTI still has to emerge. Likewise, PTI is ruling the war-battered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where PPP is nowhere to be seen, though PML-N has gained ground in the province. The battlefield of Punjab is the decisive factor for premiership as the province sends as many as 148 lawmakers to the National Assembly. In case of Punjab, members of PML-N and PPP are already drifting towards PTI.
Consequently, the recent induction of Nadeem Afzal Chan, on the heels of Firdous Ashiq Awan, Nazar Gondal, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Raja Riaz and many others implies that PPP’s popularity in Punjab has decreased to the lowest level. Even the bye-elections in NA-120 depict a bleak future of PPP as its candidate, Faisal Mir managed to secure only around 1400 votes, falling behind Sheikh Azhar of Tehreek-e-Labbaik.
Moving on, In December 2017 and during the last month, Imran Khan has clarified that no political alliance with PPP will be formed. The December statement was negated after the Senate elections, primarily due to the fact that PTI wanted to lesson PML-N and was apprehensive of any legislation that could have paved way for Nawaz Sharif to return to the house.
In regard to this, the statement of Asif Zardari, just months before the general elections, is another ploy as the political chess player knows that the public will avoid voting for Imran Khan if there is a fear of a probable alliance with PPP Moreover, due to this the crumbling PML-N will not be able to secure votes. In any case, the lone party in need of consolidating its position will be PPP.