- Accurate or not, Bilawal’s remarks signal the end of cooperation
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that PML-N supreme leader Mian Nawaz Sharif too had been a ‘selected’ Prime Minister before Imran Khan, while speaking to reporters in Lahore on Saturday. He also said that his mother, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had stopped him from becoming the Amirul Momineen. Mr Bhutto-Zardari may be right to the extent that Mian Nawaz had become Punjab Chief Minister in 1985 because the military establishment under Ziaul Haq and Punjab Governor Ghulam Jilani Khan had ‘selected’ him, but then the establishment had also ‘selected’ Ms Bhutto as PM both in 1988 and 1993. It is true that she had won elections both times, but on neither occasion did she win an absolute majority, and was provided allies to form a simple majority in the National Assembly, presumably by the forces that provided the PTI the votes it needed to convert its electoral plurality into a ruling majority.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari also attacked National Assembly Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif, saying that he was like the PTI in his lack of respect for Parliament, as he was in London despite being Leader of the Opposition. PML-N leaders have refrained from responding in the hop of preserving opposition unity, but a three-way split has become glaringly obvious. With Mr Bhutto-Zardari throwing accuracy to the wind so long as he can score a debating point against the Sharif brothers, he has left them to ask, even the last shreds of opposition unity seems to have been stripped away. With the JUI-F already having made clear that the two major parties’ indifference to its Long March had made it wary.
PPP’s breaking off and leaving the PML-N alone means that instead of pressing against the government while planning in common, the opposition parties will do the PTI’s work for it by taking on one another. At the moment, with the opposition parties unwilling to take on the government by channelizing the public’s feelings about the government, especially its handling of the economy, the government should be more than content not just to have their forbearance.