The recent past witnessed political ruckus as a result of Asif Zardari and Bilawal’s hearing at the NAB office in Islamabad in relation to the fake accounts case and the Park Lane case.
PPP workers gathered outside the NAB office as a show of street power and support, some managed to get through the police barricade to enter the main gate of the NAB office. PPP workers gathered near the NAB office and clashed with the police. Over 35 were arrested for trying to get close to the office gate. The police have been unable to control the crowd. Six police officers were also injured in the clash. Prominent PPP leaders such as Aseefa Bhutto and Nafisa Shah were also present at the protests. This incident was followed by a stream of virulent exchanges on social media. There is a perception that the cases maybe closing in on Zardari and Faryal Talpur- and as a political stunt the Zardari-Bhutto members have decided to fight out this battle as a coherent family front.
There is also a perception that PPP may seek to muster opposition support as means to push back the heat of the on-going cases. Prior to the recent NAB hearing, Asif Zardari had a meeting with Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Reportedly, the meeting took place without informing PPP leaders and members, Mr Zardari reached the residence of the Maulana hours after appearing before the NAB. The exact agenda of the meeting remains unknown, but speculations suggest that Zardari may now be looking for Maulana’s assistance in forging a stronger opposition alliance. The likelihood of a burgeoning opposition pressure against the ruling party became evident when PPP, JUI-F and PML-N indicated their disinterest in attending the upcoming and highly important government briefing session on the implementation of the National Action Plan – scheduled on March 28.
There are also talks that the Maulana is trying to broker a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Zaradari. Amidst the speedy developments in the corruption cases- PPP has also announced that it will commence its public contact campaign- across 35 cities- against the alleged governance failures of PTI.
It needs to be seen whether the opposition forces would join hands to push back the ruling party’s anti-corruption agenda , divergences between major opposition forces continue to ensue.
For almost two years, the PPP fully supported the agenda of PTI’s accountability drive , especially against the Sharif family. It is believed that Zardari played a major role in pulling down the PML-N’s Balochistan government and the Sanjrani formula. It even refused to join hands with the opposition in elections for the prime minister. These moves are seen as- Zardari playing cautious politics, to ensure he retains his dominance over Sindh. However, the broad-based accountability drive, growing criticism of PPP’s negligent governance in Sindh and growing independent allegations regarding corruption by certain PPP leaders- is placing Zaradari’s dominance of Sindh in a precarious position.
In the wake of the opposition party’s disinterest in attending the government NAP briefing- the FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi- reportedly wrote a letter to Bilawal Bhutto, asking to him re-gauge his decisions.
A toothless opposition is a poor indicator for a country’s democratic health, but the recent developments should be seen and used as major political parties to turn over a new leaf. The younger leadership should take more charge and the major parties should revive themselves without the taints of corruption.