Shahbaz Sharif’s dinner

Is the Ice breaking?

Many in the media had declared the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) dead when after whipping up a political storm midway into Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tenure the alliance ran aground. The bitter exchange of accusations that followed led many to believe that any effort to revive the PDM amounted to flogging a dead horse. It was forgotten that the factors that had fueled the PDM’s rise still existed, particularly the determination on the part of the powers-that-be to hog politics. Thus there are objective compulsions overriding personal likes and dislikes that are bound to lead to the revival of the opposition alliance, irrespective of whether it is called PDM or is given any other name.

PML(N) President Shahbaz Sharif has decided to divert his energies to bringing together the estranged opposition parties. At the dinner hosted by him for the purpose all the major parties and most of the smaller parties were duly represented. Those in the forefront of the PDM infighting excused themselves but sent important leaders of their parties to represent them at the dinner. In his brief chat Mr Sharif asked the participating opposition leaders to jointly expose the upcoming budget 2021-2022. He was quoted as saying that it was a responsibility of opposition parties to resist all anti-people decisions being taken for the budget. The mere fact that all the major parties and most of the smaller ones were duly represented was indicative of a desire on the part of the opposition to work together. There was no presser after the meeting, indicating the informality of the gathering,

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Mr Sharif reportedly called upon the PPP and ANP representatives to resume their seats in the PDM. He was told they would consult their parties first. In spite of the opposition remaining disunited in the Senate, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani’s presence at the dinner shows there is a desire to improve relations. The PPP delegation assured Mr Sharif that the party would support all moves on the part of the joint opposition to block the way of “anti-people decisions” when the budget is presented. It was agreed that the joint opposition would not allow the government to present an anti-people budget. There is a likelihood of the opposition giving the government a run for its money during the Budget session.

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