The highly anticipated All Parties Conference (APC) of opposition parties finally took place on Sunday, September 20 in Islamabad. The APC was hosted by PPP. The opposition parties have declared this APC a turning point in Pakistani politics while the PTI government has declared it a failure.
From opposition’s point view, the APC succeeded to forge unity among 11 opposition parties. It was succeeded to come up with commonly agreed agenda and strategy for an anti-government protest movement.
The opposition successfully overcomes the divisions and differences that existed among opposition parties on the questions how to bring down the government and from where to start the protest movement.
The smaller parties wanted to take aggressive steps to begin with but PPP and PML-N was in favour of a phased approach. Both PML-N and PPP wanted to start the protest movement from protest rallies and big public gatherings to build the movement.
There were also differences on the question of no-confidence motion and in house change. One defeat after the other of the opposition parties in the parliament raised the doubts on the strategy of in house change.
Finally, APC overcomes all these strategic differences. The opposition parties successfully resolve the issues and differences around the strategy and tactics of an anti-government protest movement. In my view it is the biggest success and achievement of this APC.
The question is if the APC was a failure then why the army of government ministers lining up for one press conference after the other. They must be happy that APC was a failure and it had no impact at all. The government ministers know that joint opposition has achieved through this APC what it failed to achieve so far, the unity among opposition forces.
The disunity and division among the opposition parties was a blessing for PTI government in last two years. The government has the smooth sailing so far due to the divided opposition. The opposition failed to pose serious challenge to the government both inside and outside the parliament.
If the opposition forces kept its unity intact in coming period then it will pose serious trouble and problems for the PTI government in coming months. The PTI government will face a united and highly aggressive opposition for the first time.
Will the opposition succeed to bring down the government in January 2021 is too early to predict. This mainly depends on two factors.First, the ability of opposition forces to mobilise its supporters and public in big numbers and second the performance of PTI government in coming months.
The war of narratives has begun and will intensify in coming months as opposition will hit the streets. The opposition will challenge the claims and narrative of the government regarding its performance. The opposition will build a narrative that this PTI government is not capable to deal with the economic crisis.
If the government failed to improve its performance and address the issues like unemployment, rising inflation, increased poverty and falling incomes, it would find itself in a difficult situation in coming period. There is wide gap between the claims of government and the ground reality.
The PTI government will be under immense pressure to improve its performance. The aggressive opposition will challenge the government performance and raise question on its two years performance and policies.
It will be a long drawn battle between PTI and its allies on one hand and aggressive and charged opposition on the other hand. The main challenge for opposition would be to maintain its unity and alliance on a common agenda and political strategy.
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