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Will Pakistan’s Khan Go After an Opposition Adrift?

 
 

On Wednesday, the joint opposition of all major political parties in Pakistan met in the country’s capital, Islamabad, to chalk out a strategy to launch a movement against the government. Certainly, the meeting reflects the seriousness of the situation when it comes to the opposition’s intent to unite against the ruling party. However, the agenda presented in the meeting against the government doesn’t point toward a situation where the opposition parties are finally ready to go after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI)’s government.

The all-parties conference, which was expected to result in major announcements against the ruling party, ended up passing a resolution against the government for alleged victimization of political opponents. For instance, one of the actions which the opposition has decided to take against the government proposes wearing black ribbons on July 25th to mark a black day against the current constitutional structure in the country.

Simply put, the joint opposition was waiting for the ruling party to concede some space merely by seeing all major opposition parties under one roof against the government. It’s unlikely that Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to relent when it comes fearing an opposition’s showdown against his government. Irrespective of the controversy of the situation, Khan is someone who carried out a three-month-long protest campaign against the outgoing government. Moreover, Khan is a political leader who was willing to take on the previous government regardless of the consequences for his provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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However, currently, the opposition lacks any such intent and the fear of more political space for the ruling party has turned the entire lot into a passive-aggressive unit. Clearly, a meeting that was expected to put out a clear agenda to dislodge or weaken the ruling party has given space to more confusion, reflecting existing divisions within the opposition ranks. As of now, the opposition’s focus seems to be on buying more time rather than on putting together plans against the ruling party.

Arguably, while the opposition may have united against the ruling party, the personal and party agendas of various leaders still continue to dominate the situation. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is one party that is ready to mount a resistance campaign against Khan’s government. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the other hand doesn’t appear to be ready to burn all bridges in an attempt to teach Khan a lesson. A number of religious groups with a small presence in parliament, such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), are trying to unitize the political support of two mainstream opposition parties to shake the government for personal political gains.

However, in this entire state, no one is sure about the commitment of any party to the proposed mission of weakening Khan’s government. Previously, all major political groups and leaders uniting against the current government have also amalgamated against one another. At times, they have utilized each other’s political support to create leverage for negotiation with third parties. On other occasions, there has been outright abandonment of commitments under such situations. So, clearly, there is a trust deficit issue at play.

Another attempt by the opposition to lure in the support of smaller political parties, that are in alliance with Khan, has failed as well. Clearly, any political party that is part of the government doesn’t want to sit in the opposition when the opposition is not sure about its own future course of action.

The actions of the joint opposition have failed to inspire any confidence which is a reflection that no serious challenge is coming after the ruling party. Clearly, the government is not going anywhere as long as the party in power doesn’t end up creating some serious political instability in the country. The joint opposition needs to seriously contemplate about their future course of action as Khan’s government is not going to relent when it comes to pursuing major corruption-related cases.

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