New bedfellows

PPP leadership has finally realised that it is now vulnerable and has to seek support of embarrassing allies, eschewing some bitter memories of the past. The latest top-certified meeting between President Zardari’s centre-forward Babar Awan and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has obviously been forced by the parallel movement to unify all the Muslim Leagues including the Q-League. But Nawaz Sharif had categorically excluded the Gujrat Chaudhrys from the process and they had thus been left with the option of seeking shelter under the PPP wings. It is but natural that after the safe exit of Musharraf from the scene, the Chaudhrys were reduced to being political orphans, although they had a substantial presence in parliament. Monday’s Babar-Elahi meeting and their news conference did not touch on any unpleasant issue. Questions about the PPP declaring the Q-League as ‘Qatil League’ (the league of murderers) were brushed aside as distant past and because ‘democracy should look into the future.’ Pervaiz Elahi repeatedly assured Babar Awan that he wanted the PPP to complete its five-year term. Both took cover behind the claims of strengthening and supporting the democratic process and the adage that doors are never closed in politics.Still the event marks a major landmark for both the PPP and the PML-Q, as it is not their own political vision or will that has brought them together; they have been forced by threats to their positions created by the changing environment and the transforming political landscape. Nawaz Sharif and Pir Pagara are almost on the verge of coming together. The Q-League has already been divided and may face a further split as other factions unite. The PPP is facing a growing discontent in its ranks and senior leaders are being publicly reprimanded.

Almost all parties are eating humble pie — being haunted by their past words and deeds but seeking to move on. These changing positions definitely point to a realisation in all stakeholders that things are moving towards a change and new alignments are needed. These alignments will emerge, some more embarrassing for the incumbents and others promising a better future. This is democracy. But for us, showing the mirror and to remind players where they stood in the past and how low they have now fallen is also part of democracy. Strange bedfellows are nothing new in politics, but Pakistan should now be ready to see some odd couples masquerading as upholders of high democratic traditions – Thenews