Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Pervaiz Elahi’s call on ex-President and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari was supposed to be to thank him for the support of the PPP in the March Senate elections, which enabled the Punjab Assembly to elect its Senators unopposed, and thus avoid any of the charges of vote-selling that plagued the KP Assembly. Ch Pervaiz was surely engaging in a little rhetorical hyperbole when he said that he intended to go to Mr Zardari’s Karachi residence for this, but since he had come to Lahore, he had met him here. After all, the elections were three months ago. Instead, the meeting took place after a number of developments, the most significant of which was the raising of the possibility of the PPP deserting its allies and taking office.
That the contact with the PTI should come through the PML(Q) makes sense. The PML(Q), without which the PTI could not survive in office at either the centre or in Punjab, is an old ally of the PPP, Ch Pervaiz himself having been Deputy PM in the 2008-2013 PPP government. However, the meeting was not purely a social one, for it caused enough of a sensation for Prime Minister Imran Khan to cancel a visit to the UK. For him, this would be another sign that the establishment might not want him, as the PML(Q) is supposed to act on its desires. Mr Zardari has also shown a readiness to work with the establishment, and even if the meeting does not mean an immediate switch of the PML(Q) to the PPP, it might well reveal the shape of a future electoral alliance.
It should be remembered that Mr Zardari has tasked ex-PM Raja Pervez Ashraf to examine South Punjab. It is almost as if the PPP is looking at future candidates there with a view to the next election alongside the PML(Q). That means that the Pakistan Democratic Alliance, already dead, is now buried, with the left and left-of-centre parties like the ANP or PKMAP, with the PPP and against both PML(N) and JUI(F).