Alliance Politics in Pakistan

One may not be appreciative of alliance politics because of numerous reasons, no matter justifiable or unjustifiable, yet its role in our politics remains undeniable as the alliances played a significant role in the making and breaking of our political history. Pakistan National Alliance’s agitation at the name of Nizam-I-Mustafa invited general Zia-ul-Haq to power, MRD kept the voice against martial law alive during the Zia regime but came to a disappointing end at the very hands of Pakistan’s biggest champion of democracy (PPP) and was finally dissolved before the elections of 1988, IJI brought Nawaz Sharif into power and PAI brought about his demise; all affected the course of political history.

Though these alliances were different from one another so far as their constitution, objectives and the success rate is concerned nonetheless few things appear to be common in all.

1) They all were reactionary in nature: formed to dislodge the common and comparatively bigger power from the political ascendancy by any means that can serve the purpose. The basic paradigm behind these alliances has always been the win/lose paradigm. If seen in depth, comparatively famous and effective alliances as PNA, MRD, IJI or PAI present the same picture and appear to be the prototype of one another.

2) What is more interesting regarding these alliances is the fact that the parties forming the alliances have never been sincere to each other and rather tried their best to belittle their allies to establish their hegemony. It is because of the internal politics these alliances have never been effective and bore no fruits. On the dissolution of MRD Nawabzada Nasrullah in one of his statements said that it was Benazir-led PPP’s dictatorial behavior, which brought an end to MRD. Jamat-i-Islami parted with IJI saying that Nawaz Sharif-led Muslim League was no more true to the pledge it made while forming the alliance. PAI suffered disintegration when the then PAI president Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri expelled PPP and its like-minded parties saying that they! have been violating the basic agenda the alliance was formed upon. However the underlying fact was the disharmony and tug of war between the main parties of PAI i.e. PPP and PAT, which practically brought an end to the alliance.

3) Another similarity of these alliances lies in their end as all of them failed to accomplish what they were established for. In fact bigger parties in the alliances always tried to monopolize and manipulate them at will without honoring and appreciating any difference of opinion, which finally proved to be the road map of their disintegration.

The alliances in Pakistan always lacked unanimity of views, a big hindrance for the real unity and the root cause of alliances’ failure to deliver the goods. Moreover, absence of impartial leadership equally sincere to every party raising himself above the party affiliation has never been available to any alliance. The party leaders who could have been able to sink their individuality in the collective whole were missing as well. If seen in the light of given analysis, the newly founded “National Alliance”, comprised of six parties, is also a reactionary one formed at the behest of the government with a view to counter the opposition parties in the forthcoming elections. Every party appeared to have been striving for more and more power and trying hard to grab more portfolios within the alliance when it was only in the offing. The real fight was between Millat Party and Pakistan Awami Tehreek; the only party with national agenda having its branches across the country, which decided to join the alliance at the last moment upon some hidden assurances from the official authorities. Had the PAT not joined the alliance it would have been meaningless and a mockery of an alliance. Now, as it has been cooked up, what is worth consideration here is the question that whether this alliance will be able to bring about a real and positive change in our politics or it is bound to meet the same dismal ending. Positively speaking and setting aside all the negative criticism, the alliance has all the inherent elements that can make it a success provided the leadership remains sincere to the agenda it has put forth. Almost all shades of opinion are seen on it specially the joining of small parties with regional and anti-national agenda is a positive change. If these parties are brought into the national main stream it will be a really appreciable change, which will leave lasting effects on our politics. The likely inclusion of other parties will further increase its viability.

It is now up to the leaders whether they sincerely follow the agenda or indulge into a petty power game. If they keep themselves away from parochial interests and help restore the real democracy, establishment of inter-provincial harmony and resolution of the water dispute: the objectives enunciated as the basic priorities of the alliance, it will surly be a great service to the country and the people.

What’s more, the alliance can reinforce the President in materializing its seven point agenda they have been supporting the government for. As mentioned by Dr. Tahir-ul-Qari that ‘parties forming the alliance have a clear agenda to fight against poverty and to establish a moderate society for which President Pervez Musharraf has laid the foundation.’ This is now upon the government to apply all measures to rid the country of the ills it is suffering from. At the same time it is incumbent upon it to keep itself away from the politics of patronization and ensure its impartiality in the forthcoming elections by keeping the electioneering process free, impartial and transparent and honor the people’s verdict whatever it may be.

The alliance’s leadership should as well dispel the image of being the government’s B team. This is possible only when they follow the principal-based politics, the only way to keep the national interest supreme which is the basic objective of the alliance.