The once-strong alliance between the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) and PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz), under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif, appears to be unraveling as both parties clash over election-related issues. They are exchanging heated accusations of political flip-flopping and vying for the support of influential forces.
Tensions have escalated, with the PPP and PML-N engaging in a scathing verbal confrontation, accusing each other of backtracking on previous stances and seeking support from external entities.
Both parties have criticized each other’s political slogans and blamed each other for a lack of performance. The PPP has referred to PML-N leaders as “political descendants” of the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, while the PML-N took a jab at the PPP’s slogan, stating that “Bhutto is no longer alive.”
Nadeem Afzal Chan, a PPP leader, criticized their former allies, implying that the PML-N was “hiding behind institutions.” He emphasized the PPP’s commitment to its motto of “respect the vote” and contrasted it with the PML-N’s stance.
The differences between the PPP and PML-N have been growing, particularly concerning the timing of general elections. The PPP has called for early elections, while the PML-N has emphasized the completion of constituency delimitation before holding elections.
During a press conference, Chan expressed the PPP’s desire for elections but raised concerns about a scenario reminiscent of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a political alliance formed to thwart Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the 1988 polls. He stressed the importance of a level playing field for all parties in the electoral competition.
PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi responded to the allegations made by PPP representatives and clarified that they had never announced an electoral alliance with the PPP. He emphasized that the previous coalition government should not be mistaken for an alliance for elections.
In response, PPP leader Hassan Murtaza challenged Abbasi to a debate and accused the PML-N of being “political descendants” of Zia-ul-Haq, suggesting that their opposition to Bhutto stems from an inherited animosity. Murtaza defended Bhutto’s legacy passionately, emphasizing that it lives on.
This public exchange highlights the growing rift between the two major political parties in Pakistan and underscores the challenges of maintaining a unified opposition against the incumbent government.