After maintaining an uncharacteristically stable union for months, relations between the two major opposition parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the PPP and PML(N) are now at loggerheads with each other as both want to follow divergent strategies and protect their individual interests. Both parties have unfortunately made avoidable blunders that have jeopardized the future of the PDM that had emerged as a formidable force that both the ruling party and the establishment were having a tough time dealing with. While the PML(N) and the JUI(F) were quite keen to resign en masse from Parliament when the time came, the PPP was understandably reluctant considering it was in power in Sindh and the second largest party in the Senate. It would have been better if the PML(N) understood this and showed some flexibility and agreed with the PPP on bringing a no-confidence motion against the PM first. Such was the stubbornness from the PML(N) camp that during a meeting, Asif Ali Zardari asked Nawaz Sharif to come back from London and then the PDM as a whole would resign. The PPP made matters worse by approaching the pro-establishment government ally BAP for support to get Yusuf Raza Gilani elected as opposition leader in the Senate, a move condemned by members within the party as well.
That a five-party faction headed by the PML(N)’s parliamentary leader in the Senate, Azam Nazir Tarar, will form a new opposition in the Senate with 27senators, is perhaps the start to a complete disintegration of the PDM at all levels, with a PPP-led bloc going its separate way. There are however senior parliamentarians on both sides of the divide who believe that there is room for reconciliation and that the alliance should not falter at this stage when it has achieved much by sticking together. It would be beneficial for hardliners in both camps to heed this advice and try to reach a consensus on a way forward that suits all stakeholders. The survival of the PDM in these testing times is not only important for opposition parties but also all those institutions that have been affected by the current setup. The alliance can go on to achieve much more only if it works in unity; divided it will quickly falter.