PDM’s public meeting in Swat drew a respectable gathering with political workers from all over Malakand division reaching the venue in rallies. Eight months back PTI vice president Maryam Nawaz had delivered a fiery speech in a well-attended public meeting in Swat. This time she was replaced, reportedly by the party supremo himself, with PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif who is known to be a moderate. While PDM chief Fazlur Rehman cirticised “certain institutions” for providing support to Imran Khan’s unconstitutional government, Shahbaz Sharif maintained full focus on the PTI government’s lack of competence in running the affairs of the country and the suffering consequently faced by the people.
After having raised expectations to fever pitch through three months of rallies and public events across the country, and after having claimed time and again that the PTI government would be nowhere in sight by January, the opposition got mired in rivalries between the PPP and PML-N leading the PPP and ANP to leave the alliance. There were dissenting voices within the PML-N also with a number of legislators opposing the policy of confrontation with the establishment. With party president Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s release on bail, the PML-N’s soft liners rallied around him. PML-N vice president and hard liner Maryam Nawaz was meanwhile recalled from the frontline. While both the PPP and PTI leaders have already been canvassing in AJK for their respective candidates in the forthcoming elections, Maryam is yet to visit AJK.
With former President Zardari once again taking over the role of PPP’s chief strategist, there is little possibility of the party rejoining the PDM anytime in near future. Mr Zardari is opposed to agitation and depends solely on wheeling dealing and winning over the electables. The PPP would however be collaborating with the rest of the opposition including the PML-N inside Parliament. Unlike the PPP, the PML-N still has a stake in the PDM. In case the establishment fails to heed to the party’s major concerns, it retains the option to take recourse to street power. The PML-N meanwhile needs to reconcile its idealistic goals of reforming the power equation in the system with its mundane concerns of getting its exiled leaders back.