Pakistan Democratic Movement – the central opposition against the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf government – has announced at least thirty rallies across the country to revive the movement. Earlier last week, after months of inactivity, PDM finally held a rally at Karachi’s Bagh-e-Jinnah. Big names such as Shabaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and even Nawaz Sharif graced the microphones and delivered fiery speeches urging the public to not stay idle in the current times. The impassioned speeches and flashy lights at the rally made for a spectacle and indicated that they meant business. The rally was also the stage where the PDM announced that they would march to Islamabad to topple the PTI government once and for all. Even though the opposition leaders seemed serious about this proposition, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari dismissed the idea. While addressing a press conference in Kashmore, he advised the alliance to first resign from the parliament and then plan their march. Former Prime Minister and PPP-P leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also questioned the movement asking whether it was right to be organizing such marches knowing that COVID-19 is on the rise.
The PPP’s comments remind the public of the PDM’s uncertain future. When the alliance was born in September of 2020, it had a clear goal: to bring down the reigning PTI government. And it was going to accomplish this goal with the help of the PML-N, the JUI-F, and the PPP. However, a year into the operations of the alliance the PPP has shifted away and has now said that the PDM actually wasted their time. The rift started a few months ago over the issue of resigning from Parliament – a tactic PPP did not agree with. This led to the postponement of its initially planned long march during the past year and there has not been much except for false threats and murky decisions.
Now the key figures in the alliance say that they are going to expand the movement and mobilise the public. Regarding the burning issues like unemployment, hike in electricity prices, electoral reforms, and a plethora of other issues, PDM’s remains unclear in terms of the policy. It has also been said that the alliance may switch to take an electoral position. However, PPP’s win in the Senate and the general strength of most PDM parties, except for the PML-N and JUI-F, make this seem like a distant dream. The loss of Bilawal’s party has hit the PDM harder than it might want to admit, considering the success of their Karachi rally was mainly due primarily to Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s party.
The PDM have talked about everything, except a clear timeline. In contrast, the PTI has been expanding its support base. They have won favour with their handling of the coronavirus as well as the vaccine rollout program. The government’s macroeconomic policies are gaining praise and it is yet to come into the military establishment’s bad books. Their recent wins in Kashmir are a testament to the likely fact that the government will be able to secure a second tenure.
If the PDM wishes to embark on its goals, it is imperative that they seriously re-evaluate where they stand at the moment and where they wish to be in the next few years.