PPP, PML-N and Musharraf: a merry-go-round of alliances

Published: October 27, 2010

Could Musharraf make a comeback to the presidency with his new political party?

There is an age old saying, “all is fair in love and war.”

It should be amended to say, “all is fair and possible in love, war and politics.”

A couple of years ago, when the PPP came into power, the PML -Q or the King’s Party (as it was rightly dubbed), was its arch rival.

The PPP’s success in the elections was considered to be “sweet revenge” against then President Musharraf and his henchmen (read: PML-Q). Before and after forming the “people’s government,” Mr. Zardari made tall claims about political reconciliation and underwent several negotiations with the PML-N.

Even his detractors were thoroughly impressed with the friendly overtures of Mr. Zardari towards Mr. Sharif and the now-forgotten Murree Declaration was hailed as a major breakthrough. The nation felt that finally, its much criticised leaders had realised that confrontational politics were of no use and it was time for everyone to turn a new leaf.

Sadly, within a few months, Mr. Zardari reneged on most of his promises and brought the beleaguered nation back to the same old blame game. All the reconciliatory moves between the PPP and PML-N failed. What brought two former rivals to the table were their common enemies at the time: Musharraf and his cronies.

There is no denying that the PPP’s popularity is at an all-time low. Many people attribute this lost love for PPP to its wrong political moves: dragging its feet on the restoration of judges, massive corruption and above all, its inept management of the most devastating natural disaster in the history of Pakistan. The idiot box had plenty of self-proclaimed gurus and experts declaring an inevitable military intervention soon after Eidul Fitr.  However, Eid came and went and somehow the signals from army quarters gave those political pundits a really hard pillow to swallow. Martial law was not to come.

When Musharraf decided to launch his political party, the APML, in London, his move carried some substance in spite of his huge unpopularity at the time. His decision to launch a political party was not a mere pie in the sky move and he must have had some assurances of support from his supporters back home. Subsequent to his much-celebrated launch, there were talks of the unification of all the Muslim leagues.  The recent statement by Mr. Sharif, in which he said that he was open to an alliance with the PML-Q, minus the Chaudrys and Sheikh Rasheed, was a signal that he was not going to spare the people who had said that the “Sharif brothers had no space in national politics.”

The same PML-Q also leveled its angst against the PPP by stating:

“PML-Q will never reconcile with a party which is responsible for breaking Pakistan.”

As I stated earlier, politics is a strange game. Former foes can become allies overnight; it all depends on the situation and circumstances.

The recent move by Babar Awan to bring the PML-Q on board with its “reconciliatory politics” should be observed very closely. There are signs that come 2013, if the elections are held, there will a lot of political maneuvering. Only time will tell who will be friends and foes at that time. The current reading, which of course is subject to change, is that the PPP and the PML-Q will align, to isolate the PML-N. At present, the PPP feels that it is at a competitive disadvantage in Punjab and believes that bringing in the PML Q may turn the table on the PML-N.

With all the present uncertainty, who knows whether Mr. Musharraf will make a comeback, to the presidency after reviving old alliances. Could Mr. Zardari assume the role of the prime minister? Of course, all of this is farfetched, but it’s not impossible. All is possible in love, war and politics.


D. Asghar

A mortgage-banker by profession who also loves to write.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Your idea doesn’t make sense. Musharraf has already announced that he will never become rubber-stamp President, he will rather contest elections for Prime Minister seat.
    I am not sure whether Zardari will be able to return to Presidency or even to Pakistan after 2013 but if he makes a comeback, he will fight as Presidential candidate due to the protection of constitutional immunity under article 248. He knows that his destination is either President house or jail. Zardari can’t afford to fight elections for any other post than presidency.Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    There is no political sense behind this write up. Your facts are distorted and assumptions are ludicrous.

    Tribune again needs to read the write ups first and then approve it.Recommend

  • D. Asghar

    Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate the feedback. As the article suggests that all of these assumptions are far fetched. But be have seen many 360 degrees in our national politics.

    I gave you a few examples. PPP trying to woo PML-Q, which was its arch rival at one point, to send signals to MQM and PML-N that it has other options available.

    The premise of the whole thing is that anything can be expected. Remember, Mush Sahib and his cronies said that Nawaz cannot return to Pakistan because he made a 10 year pact, well NS made a come back, under Mush’s rule within 10 years. So do not hold your breath.Recommend

  • shahid shah

    Did you mean 180 degrees? 360 would mean a full circle and essentially the same point where one started. Anyways, I don’t think that you have a good pulse on national politics. PPPPs overtures towards PML-Q are an insurance against any changes in the current coalition at the center as well as in Punjab. The PPPP and MQM have developed differences due to the violance in Karachi as well as a delay in the local body elections. Consequently, the PPPP is looking to take the pressure off from MQMs threat of parting ways at the center. Moreover, the PPPP may decide to take on PML-N in Punjab if it continues to back the judiciary in an evetual push for early elections. The PPPP also has its eyes set on the local body elections next year and realizes that it can control Punjab with the help of the PML-q. The 2013 elections (or early 2012 as most analysts expect) elections are too far away and I don’t believe that the PML-Q and PPPP alliance will last that long.Recommend

  • D. Asghar

    Shahid Bhai, thanks for fixing my “geometric” blemish. I was never a bright student in Maths. 
    My point solely is that in Politics there is no final word. The foes of today can be allies of tomorrow, depending on situation and circumstances. The strategy changes day by day as events unfold. The reason why things are fluid at all times is “you never know when and who you end up marrying.” It is mostly a “marriage of convenience.” I may be a total novice, but I know that Mush Sahib and his Q League cannot form the government on their own. In case if Mush Sahib makes a comeback (more than likely he will and all the uproar against trying him and all of that will wither).

    Q and N leagues are poles apart right now, because of Chaudrys and Sheikh Rasheed Factor. More than likely Q league will merge into Mush League. So PPP has to look for an alliance as N League and PPP are at odds, at least for right now. In order for PPP to survive, it will need the crutches of Mush League/Q League/MQM. So far this is what the read is. Of course no one knows what tomorrow holds. But looking at the actors right now in this theater, one can deduce that it will be another “bitter marriage of convenience.”Recommend

  • parvez

    The 2013 elections is to far away to even venture speculating on this. I agree with the author that in Pakistani politics anything is possible, even the impossible becoms possible.
    Well, today Mr.Zardari is our President.Recommend

  • D. Asghar

    @Parvez Bhai… Thanks for jumping in and saving my neck over here. 

    I may be a novice columnist (don’t consider myself anything) about Pakistani politics, but I have witnessed many unbelievable twists and turns in my lifetime, so far. The July 4th 1977 coup when all was going well with PPP-PNA negotiations. Nobody expected an Operation “Midnight Jackal “ (I think that was the official name of Zia’s coup, if my memory serves me right). The hanging of Bhutto Sahib on very circumstantial evidence. ( My readers please do not consider me a PPP fan here. Have no affiliation or appreciation, however the ruling against Bhutto Sahib is a blot in our history), Zia Sahib’s promise of 90 days and reneging on his promise and lasting for 11 long years, the game of not so musical chairs between PPP and PML-N for next 10+ years was nothing short of a surprise, Mush’s way of entry was a surprise…. NS exit and re entry within 10 years was a major surprise. If you recall when Zardari Sahib knew he could get rid of Mush, all of a sudden he said, “Well we cannot tolerate Mush anymore.” Then Mush Sahib was shown the door and he went scot free for everything he did.

    I mean I can go on and on. Yes, so anything is possible.Recommend

  • abid mohiuddin

    Musharraf will return as a real incharge of the country whether PM or President
    To help him do this we need to change the political culture and mobilise people who never vote; mean the middle class!

    Musharraf will be unique .He will never join hands with Zardari or NS or Chaudhrys but will emerge from the new middle class .He might welcome MQM which also represents Middle class Recommend

  • abid mohiuddin

    Musharraf will return as a real in charge of the country whether PM or President
    To help him do this we need to change the political culture and mobilize people who never vote; mean the middle class!

    Musharraf will be unique .He will never join hands with Zardari or NS or Chaudhrys but will emerge from the new middle class .He might welcome MQM which also represents Middle class Recommend

  • D. Asghar

    @Abid Bhai. Thanks for your contribution. The million dollar question (s), is he is electable on his own, can he head to the Parliament without any crutches. Even as established party like PPP needs crutches, so to speak. So in Urdu there is a saying, “Mush Sahib kis khait ki mooli hain?”

    Humble Regards.Recommend

  • qaisar

    musharraf will be elected member soon inshallahRecommend

  • http://deleted Sadia Memon

    Pakistan Muslim League is loosing patience because of these reasons.
    N-League never won any election without establishment support. They know if next election going to held under Pakistan Peoples Party government then they have no chance to win, because they will not have full support from establishment. PML-N can not make any progress to get popular support in Sind, Baluchistan and Pukhtunkhawah until PPP is in power. Most Media and judiciary is anti PPP and Noon league want to take full advantage of this thing to weaken PPP government and PPP, to make progress for their future politic. Military establishment make it clear to Muslim League Nawaz that there will be no future role for Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif is blacklisted because of his past attitude. N-League is disappointed from military establishment and now want to use judiciary, media, MQM and other anti PPP forces to destabilize PPP government and intimidate military establishment to make future deal for Nawaz Sharif.Recommend