ISLAMABAD: While the Senate election has forced parties belonging to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to display a semblance of cohesion and unity, the 10-party opposition alliance in contrast is faced with a number of challenges due to disagreements among its key partners on the key. problem.
The resignation of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani for the Senate seat from Islamabad as a joint PDM candidate has in particular forced the group to confront Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh, a candidate from the ruling coalition led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as unity.
While the constituent PDM parties spoke with one vote in support of Gillani, they have not yet reached a consensus to place a joint Senate candidate in the other components of the electoral body, in particular the Punjab assembly and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The opposition alliance might be able to secure a few additional seats from this legislature if they worked together. Although there have been discussions to reach an agreement, the official seat allocation formula has not been announced.
Given the decisive action Prime Minister Imran Khan took against a group of defectors from the KP assembly in the 2018 Senate elections, there appears to be less chance that the March electoral drills will repeat themselves than what happened in the past. On the contrary, the parliamentary parties, particularly the PTI, are more vigilant this time. Since PTI has a strong grip on the KP assembly, it does not hesitate to immediately sack Irrigation Minister Liaquat Khattak, the brother of Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, after losing the by-election by Nowshera. The difference between Liaquat Khattak and her brother is considered to have played an important role in the loss of her candidate. This action would not negatively impact the PTI’s enormous numerical power in the KP assembly even if Liaquat Khattak did not vote for the party candidate.
The dispute between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is supported by Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) remains on a number of issues including resignation from the assembly, duration the planned long march and its transformation into a prolonged sit-in in the federal capital and filing a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the National Assembly. However, this contentious issue has now become a major culprit.
PML-N and JUI-F have consistently taken a hard line and called for aggressively displaying their street power, but the PPP insists on agitating against the government while staying within the system. In order to keep the alliance intact, the PDM half-heartedly agreed to postpone the launch of the long march and withdrew from the assembly over objections from the PPP.
For now, this dissent has been overlooked or overshadowed by the Senate elections and the PDM parties are focusing on holding these elections. When these voting ends on March 3, the disagreements will likely resurface. At that time, the proposed long march start date of March 26 will also be approaching. For now, the PDM is not talking about future protests given the dust the poll results have created. It is not clear which city the long march will start from and when it will gather in Islamabad.
More than half a dozen hotly contested by-elections in all four provinces have also distracted the PDM component of their protest campaign. The alliance’s comprehensive involvement in the exercise is the result of Asif Ali Zardari’s insistence not to leave the field open to his arch rivals.
The PPP Supremo also came up with the idea of sponsoring Gillani for the general seat of Islamabad despite the fact that the PDM party does not have a majority in the National Assembly. Gilani’s victory in this situation was no miracle. Even if the former PM loses but gets more votes than the PDM party, it will be considered a very big achievement.
After Gillani jumped into the arena, the ruling alliance immediately began his quest to put his own house in order. Currently working hard to strengthen unity with its allies. His first and foremost attempt was to make sure all the members in the electoral college cast their votes and that no one tried to pass.
The immediate result of Gillani’s candidacy is that there is now increasing interaction between former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman with the primary aim of garnering support for Gillani.
In 2018, PPP and PML-N lobbied secretly, stayed away from the public glaze, and managed to manage three additional seats from the KP assembly. In 2021, they publicly installed Gilani for the seat of Islamabad. Anyone can guess to what extent they will be successful in their current campaign.