The PDM rally in Karachi was no doubt an impressive event with an extra-large and responsive audience. After the split in the opposition alliance in April, the PDM seemed to have gone out of commission. The well-attended Karachi rally and the tenor of the speeches delivered indicated that the alliance was again showing signs of animation. Among other opposition leaders, the rally was also addressed by both the Sharif brothers. The elder Sharif who spoke through a video link criticized individuals in the establishment for foisting the PTI government on the country through unfair means. The younger Sharif called on the PDM chief to lead the opposition parties in the march on Islamabad to bring Imran Khan’s government down. Fazlur Rehman criticised the establishment for transgressing its role defined in the constitution while he called the PTI government unjust and illegal, holding it responsible for the economic sufferings of the common man.
The PDM’s show of force has come at a time when the government has completed three years and is now fully concentrated on winning the next elections. The PTI has already decided to hold the elections through the EVMs. The opposition fears that unless challenged in the streets the government will have its say by pressurizing the institutions. The opposition also thinks that the widespread unemployment and shrinking purchasing power has alienated millions who will respond to the PDM’s call
The PDM has serious shortcomings. With the PPP and ANP out of the alliance, it cannot call itself the representative of the entire opposition. With little presence in Punjab, the PPP can only hope to come to power at the Center in case there is a hung parliament and the PPP can win over a group of electables from South Punjab through wheeling and dealing. On the other hand taking the system head on suits the PML-N. It has in fact already paid off during the bye-elections. The JUI-F hopes to win a few more seats in the country with the support of the PDM. It remains to be seen if the opposition leaders can overcome their petty party interests and join hands for civilian supremacy, media freedom and people’s economic and social wellbeing.