They won’t allow anyone take unconstitutional steps, PPP leaders keep telling us, but fall short of saying what exactly those are. Whereas the PML(N) keeps bringing up the establishment bogeyman, the federal government doesn’t do even that.
Is the PPP, like the League, hiding behind the threat of the unknown every instance it possibly can? Perhaps if the more established political parties stop grabbing at phantoms and start looking at the malaise inside, we can move on. The rifts within the PPP cannot be attributed to any “third force.” True, in any political party, there are bound to be cases of alienation of between certain groups and individuals at certain tiers of the party structure. That is the cost of empowering other, more promising individuals more than others. It is only when these cases increase in frequency when a genuine disconnect between the party leadership and cadre becomes a distinct possibility. The party’s problems in Sindh, in the aftermath of force-of-nature Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, show the signs of turbulence come next elections. Though the Badin politician has insisted he will play no role in dividing the party in any way, there are many fissures that will reveal themselves as the elections comes closer. A lot of them will do with the nature of the party’s relationship with the MQM. And, consequently, with the smattering of Sindhi nationalists.
There is also the issue of a rift within the PPP’s Punjab set up. With former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi having resigned from the PPP, there is much tumult expected there. There might be a forward bloc within the party from south Punjab to deal with.
The peculiar nature of politics within the country ensures that there is no such thing as politics-as-usual in the traditional sense of the term. Parties deemed as anti-establishment (and the N League is, now, under Nawaz Sharif’s newest avatar, firmly in that category) seem to be able to get away with a level of incompetence, corruption or inability to rein in wily party members by citing that ever-ready scare. Matters are further compounded, of course, on account of that scare being genuine.