The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is once again – after previous failed attempts – all set to go forth with its long march on Islamabad and en masse resignations. The steering committee of the PDM, chaired by former premier and PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, held a meeting on Sunday and prepared recommendations in favour of the long march plus resignations from all assemblies. The PDM huddle held on Monday with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif via a video link from London, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and the movement and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, among other PDM stalwarts, made some important decisions to protest against the incumbent government and rising inflation in the country.
What political pundits claimed to be a ‘make or break’ meeting, rather seemed like an ad hoc attempt of a dying movement to stay relevant. While the issues – inflation, price hike and unemployment – the PDM is raising for the welfare of the people are genuine and need the government’s attention, the platform has unfortunately become irrelevant with its on-again off-again and on-again mantra and no clear game plan. The anti-government alliance of 11 parties launched in September last year had shaken up the ruling PTI’s morale by holding huge rallies across the country. But today, with just a handful of political parties intact and remaining dormant for weeks after weeks, the PDM is gradually losing its charm. And if reports are to be believed, the two major parties – the PML-N and the JUI-F – are also not on the same page regarding the issue of mass resignations and long march. More importantly, the former still seeks PPP’s participation in submitting resignations, despite the fact that PPP’s co-chair Asif Ali Zardari has rejected the idea. It is then only a wonder what the PDM is likely to achieve with its decision to march on the capital and give resignations from assemblies.
The movement though has street power, what it needs are numbers in the provincial assemblies to demand for change and pose as a threat to the current government. But it currently lacks them. We have seen in the past that long marches and sit-ins do not result in ousting a government, and the ruling PTI knows this the best. The PDM then needs to devise a strategy that could work in its benefit than seem like a bunch of parties involved in petty politics.