LAHORE: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which observed its first anniversary on September 20, has got a new lease of life, thanks to unbearable rise in inflation and unpopular decisions made by the Imran Khan-led PTI government recently.
The PDM, a grand alliance of the country’s 11 leading opposition parties, seemed to have lost a lot of ground after the abrupt pullout of the Pakistan Peoples Party and following the lukewarm response of masses to its rallies during the past few months. Its activities had almost completely stopped and many political pundits had started to believe that they had seen the last of the alliance which was rapidly fading into oblivion.
However, the through-the-roof inflation rates triggered by record rise in fuel prices as well as PM Imran Khan’s needless provocation of the Army in delaying the new ISI chief’s name caused huge uproar among the masses, providing a relaunch pad to seemingly dormant PDM.
It is pertinent to mention that in the initial days of its formation, the PDM had managed to gain great momentum owing to the fiery speeches of its leadership including Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto who were scathing in their criticism of the government’s poor governance and the economic mismanagement that resulted in skyrocketing inflation.
“The PDM was on cloud nine after the successful power show in Multan on November 30, 2020 which was primarily led by PPP stalwart and former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani,” a political pundit told Bol News.
Many analysts believe that it was after the Multan power show that the people started taking the PDM seriously and paid heed to what their leadership had to say. This was also evident also from the fact that the joint candidates of the PDM managed to grab a number of by-election seats including Nowshera (PK-63), Gujranwala (PP-51) and Pishin III (PB-20), putting the government on the backfoot.
According to political insiders, PDM’s graph was going up and after the historic win of former premier and PPP stalwart Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani in the Senate elections from Islamabad where he defeated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisor on finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh on March 3, the stage was set for a battle to the finish between the Govt and the PDM. The pressure had mounted so much as to compel PM Imran Khan to take a vote of confidence from both the houses of the parliament. The PTI was clearly on the back foot and desperately needed to regain control of things.
However, fast developing differences among the major parties of PDM started flaring up at that juncture. On March 16, 2021 when PPP asked for time to deliberate about the resignations in the Central Executive Committee (CEC), other parties including the PML-N and JUI-F disagreed.
It is pertinent to mention that the PPP was clear from day one that they will not resign from the parliament and will continue its political struggle while remaining part of the democratic setup as it is the party’s policy since the days of late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The gulf between the PPP and the rest of the PDM widened in no time and saw the PPP walking away from the alliance, which was a huge setback indeed. By now the animosity had grown and nasty exchange of statements and allegations had begun to take place between PDM and the PPP. It appeared all but end of the road for PDM.
PDM’s new lease of life
It is only recently that the PDM has again started gaining momentum after PM Imran Khan led government delayed the notification of the appointment of new DG ISI and on October 16 which snowballed into a major controversy. The PDM saw some light at the end of the tunnel and was quick to announce a power show in Faisalabad. That show was quite a success where Maryam Nawaz delivered a fiery speech while the other leading personalities of the PDM also made significant impact.
On the back of the Faisalabad outing, yet another power show was arranged on October 31 at Dera Ghazi Khan where PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that the sea of masses is ready to overthrow this PTI government. He once again lashed out at PM Imran led PTI government and heaped scorn on it for the record rise in inflation in the country.
Shehbaz said: “Let’s stand up under the leadership of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and take to the street and remove the incumbent government.
Earlier, on October 27”, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had also urged the PDM leaders to boycott local bodies elections while demanding postponement of the upcoming local government elections. In a press conference in Islamabad, the PDM chief slammed the government for the “dubious” voters list formed for the local government elections.
PPP’s solo flight
On the other hand PPP is continuing with its solo flight and carried out a successful country wide protest against the rising inflation, unemployment and poverty.
A senior PPP leader told Bol News that when PPP was part of the PDM, both PML-N and JUI-F were adamant that all the opposition parties should resign from the parliament before the long march. But the PPP was of the opinion that resignations should be the last resort. “Time has proved that we were right as no other opposition party resigned from the parliament after PPP and ANP left PDM,” said PPP co-Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto during his recent speech.
Rift within PML-N
Political pundits while speaking to Bol News said on Monday that although PDM has once again started gaining momentum against the government, it remains to be seen just how how long they could sustain it. The internal rift within the PML-N has been swept under the carpet but not for long, they said.
“PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif skipped the Faisalabad power show of the PDM because his niece and party Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif was supposed to address it,” a senior PML-N leader told Bol News. He maintained that the lines have been clearly drawn within PML-N and there are two narratives prevalent in the party.
Political insiders told Bol News that If Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants PDM to be successful in toppling the PTI government, he must make efforts to keep both the factions of the PML-N together and on the same page otherwise it will be curtains for the alliance, said the analysts. They also went on to add that Maulana also should ensure that PPP and ANP are back in the fold and are also supporting the PDM cause.