- Managing the differences is no cakewalk
The PDM comprises different parties with each one having a separate programme. They also have a history of bitter rivalries as well as of alliances against common enemies. Differences within PDM components are therefore natural and have continued to appear during the last five months of the alliance’s life. The PDM is presently united to pursue a long-term and a short-term agenda. While it has so far managed to prove itself to be more resilient than expected by the PTI leadership, more divisive issues are likely to emerge as time passes. It remains to be seen if the PDM leadership has the capacity to resolve the fresh challenges to its unity.
The PDM’s ultimate goal is the restoration of civilian supremacy. Its short-term goal is to expose and, if possible, to dislodge the PTI government through constitutional means. There are differences within the alliance over tactics to be employed to achieve its aims. The PPP showed reservations when the PML(N) chief named names. It still does not favour taking on the military establishment in public speeches. After an initial frontal attack to convey in unambiguous terms what the PDM’s ultimate target was, the alliance has taken recourse to unobjectionable euphemisms and generalities. It now wants institutions to strictly abide by their constitutional mandates. When the PDM President asked the rally in Loralai whether the country belonged to the people or the “institutions”, everybody understood what he meant.
Sharp differences over resignations from the assemblies have been temporarily resolved by putting the issue on the backburner till all other tactics have been exhausted. The PDM has also managed to hammer out a consensus over participation in by-elections and the Senate polls. Meanwhile the PDM components have jointly or individually organized more than a dozen rallies with impressive participation. After a demonstration outside the ECP’s office, the PDM is scheduled to march on Islamabad.
Two challenges to the unity of the PDM would merge after the march. The controversy over the issue of resignations will re-emerge, while the PPP’s keenness to have a foothold in Punjab could stand in the way of having a joint panel. Only time will show if the alliance would have the ability to resolve these differences.