Simmering differences in the unnatural eleven-party alliance – PDM on Tuesday erupted, leading to the postponement of the much-touted long march against the government and exposed the deep fissures running underneath.
A six-hour-long meeting of the alliance at the PML-N Secretariat concluded after its failure to agree on the decision of tendering resignations from the parliament, before the start of the oft-delayed Long March, owing to major differences between the Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party.
Maulana Fazalur Rehman, the leader of JUI-F and President of the PDM announced that nine out of eleven parties were in favour of resignations from the parliament before the start of the march. However, he said the Pakistan Peoples Party had “reservations” over the matter and wanted to take up the issue in its meeting of the Central Executive Committee.
“We have given them the chance and we will wait for their decision. Until then, the March 26 long march be considered postponed,” Maulana Fazalur Rehman said and left the press conference, despite being asked by Maryam to respond to questions.
A visibly shaken Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Vice President of the PMLN said she cannot endanger her father’s life by asking him to return. “No one has the right to ask him to be here,” she said and added that she wanted her father to live.
Mohammad Nawaz Sharif who was undergoing a sentence was allowed by the PTI government to travel to London for “urgent medical treatment” in November 2019, however, since then he neither had any treatment there nor returned to the country, despite a surety bond by his brother Shahbaz Sharif. He has since been declared an absconder.
Earlier Asif Ali Zardari in his virtual address to the meeting had asked the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan and said that he has to understand that to lead the march, all the leadership might have to end up in jail. Sources said Zardari said that his party would hand over the resignations when Nawaz Sharif returns.
Zardari earlier at a public speech in Garhi Khuda Bux had sent a cryptic message to the PDM alliance – “listen to us … learn from us”, advice not taken by the PDM leadership, which wanted to micromanage the campaign to oust the sitting PTI government.
The PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said her party has millions of followers and no one wants to put the life of Nawaz Sharif in danger. She said her party would continue to seek his advice and guidance and follow his vision.
Former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said his party has asked for time from the PDM to ponder over the demand for tendering resignations and added that in the last CEC the party had decided to follow the parliamentary way.
The announcement by the PDM, touted by the PTI leadership as a public dissolution of the alliance, was hailed by the ruling party and allies. Asad Umar in a tweet said Peoples Party was unwilling to resign from posts, Maulana unwilling for a long march without resignations, and Mian sahib unwilling to return led to the end of the movement.
پیپلز پارٹی پارٹی استعفے دینے سے انکاری. مولانا استعفوں کے بغیر لانگ مارچ سے انکاری. میاں صاحب واپس آنے سے انکاری. PDM تباہ دے
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) March 16, 2021
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the PDM stands shattered as its “revolutionary” long march stands postponed.
“The opposition parties while striving for their petty interests, ended up fighting each other,” he said in a tweet.
پی ڈی ایم کا شیرازہ بکھر چکا۔
"انقلابی" لانگ مارچ ملتوی۔ اپوزیشن پارٹیاں اپنے اپنے مفادات کی جنگ لڑتے لڑتے آپس میں ہی لڑ پڑیں۔#RIP_PDM
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) March 16, 2021
According to Senator Faisal Javed Khan “it’s all curtains for PDM.” Earlier during the press conference when a similar question was put to Maryam Nawaz Sharif, she said “PDM is standing in front of you … we are also standing with each other and will cooperate.”
It's all curtains for PDM. It was made in 2020 and finished in 2020. Coalition of crooks tried their best to take NRO from PM Imran Khan but failed. Long march turns out to be a joke since people rejected them in all their rallies. Isteefay banay lateefay. Good bye PMD!
— Faisal Javed Khan (@FaisalJavedKhan) March 16, 2021
A video that viral soon after the comments of Asif Ali Zardari in the meeting showed reporters in London seeking reaction of Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, however, in his usual style he brushed aside the question and said he saw Zardari’s remarks, as the reporters saw it.
There have been serious differences in the PDM alliance for quite some time, particularly over the issue of resignations and the Pakistan Peoples Party, which has its provincial government in Sindh, had categorically rejected the idea.
New differences emerged during the Senate polls, where both the major parties eyed each other with inherent suspicions leading to lots of blame game, over who stabbed the other in the back.
According to political analysts, PPP believed that the PML-N faction led by Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazalur Rehman, were on a suicide mission, as they have nothing to lose, but for the PPP, it still has around the half term in power, albeit in Sindh alone. The party also did well in by-polls and Senate elections.