Thursday, July 21

Whither PML-N’s grand alliance?

The PML-N’s much-yearned grand alliance seems to be quickly losing its charge since it could not gather much moss though with the word go a bunch of political pundits were seeing the emergence of a force to reckon with giving sleepless nights to the PPP men residing at the Capital Hill.
However, if some analysts believe that the idea has fizzled out, but the party’s bigwigs assert that nothing has been lost as the N-League would be able to get parties and people rally around itself in due course because the party is in dialogue with other leaders, and the idea is being endorsed by the masses, who would be supporting the alliance for the just cause of getting rid of the PPP’s corrupt government.
From day one when PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif announced the formation of the grand alliance, the political observers maintained that as long as anti-PPP elements, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), would not join the alliance, its success could be a distant possibility.
When the MQM was invited to join the alliance, it made it clear that it would not become part of any movement meant for dislodging the government. However, the MQM endorsed the idea to the extent of supporting it though fell short of joining it explicitly, and latter rejoined the PPP government; thus dealing the first blow to the initiative. This is in dire contradiction to Muttahida’s wish of having at least a breathing space in Punjab, which could have been provided by the PML-N since it is holding the provincial fort for long. Also, the N-MQM nexus could have caused a clear division within the PML-N as there is no dearth of the Muttahida haters in the party. It gives rise to a question: Who will speak for the MQM from the League? Observers believe that Shahbaz Sharif could have been instrumental in bringing the Muttahida closer because he could have given certain assurances for allowing some space in the province, and that too in the next general elections.
This possibility was seriously hampered when Nawaz Sharif clearly stated that the alliance was not supposed to be an electoral one. Also he reiterated his stringent stance of keeping the Chaudharys of Gujrat out of any possible alliance. “This virtually shut the doors on all the wannabes, who could have joined hands with the N-League considering their prospects in the next polls,” maintained a PML-N leader, who is in favour of ‘playing part in power politics’ instead of being strict adherent of principles.
Also, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is on record for saying that the PML-N was itself a hurdle in the formation of the grand alliance of opposition political parties. He advised the N-League leadership to ‘change its attitude and play the role of a responsible opposition’.
Apparently the Jama’at-e-Islami Pakistan was expected to join the alliance because of their previous track-record of acting as ‘natural allies’, but its Ameer Syed Munawar Hassan was visibly perturbed when the MQM was getting closer to the PML-N. He went to the extent of openly criticising the N-League. Succinctly, these three options of the MQM, JUI-F and JI fade out in a quick succession.
As per party sources, the PML-N has no love lost for Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan, who was on board with the All Parties Democratic Movement prior to the February 2008 polls, but got annoyed with the N-League which contested the last elections after having plans of boycotting earlier. “Plus Khan’s previously stated mantra against the Sharifs is a huge negative for making him part of the alliance,” averred the leader, simultaneously considering little possibility of the cricket legend joining the alliance provided powers-that-be nods so. He negated the assertion that Imran Khan had offered to be part of it provided he was given the chairmanship of the coalition of the opposition parties.
A bigwig of the PML-N hopes that in the coming months, the nationalist and regional elements, including the conservative ones, could become part of the alliance, and talks were underway.
Nevertheless, it is yet to be seen whether the PML-N succeeds in forging ahead with a movement of dislodging the central government prior to the Senate polls in March next or the PPP remains successful in thwarting the possibility of letting its persistently ‘estranged’ allies part ways, and join the N-League.

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