PTI's alliance dilemma 

In my considered opinion, the decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to align almost exclusively with the Sunni Ittehad Council solely for securing reserved seats for women and minorities was unwarranted. Instead, it would have been more prudent if, after garnering support from the PTI in the inaugural session of the National Assembly on February 8, they had established themselves as the "Justice Parliamentary Group." PTI's strategic moves indicate that their alliance with the Sunni Ittehad Council stems from the fact that this "Council" is registered as a political party with the Election Commission. PTI-backed candidates for the National and Provincial Assemblies, who have received significant public support, will now be tallied under the Sunni Ittehad Council. Consequently, PTI's integration into the Sunni Ittehad Council will make it the largest party in the upcoming National Assembly, with a minimum of 130 seats reserved for women and minorities. This maneuver, in essence, will create substantial unease for the already fragile coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif.

In my assessment, PTI does not view alliances with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party as enduring. Even if, hypothetically, their alliance persists for some time due to uncontrollable circumstances, the fickle nature of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) could lead to its separation from the coalition government at any moment. The government of the PPP in Sindh might provide a pretext for potential separation. If the MQM were to break away from the coalition government, PTI, amalgamated into the Sunni Ittehad Council, could devise a plan to oust the future Prime Minister through a vote of no confidence. If such a plan were to materialize, Maulana Fazlur Rehman might also be inclined to join it, thereby facilitating the reversal of the future government through "constitutional means" whenever deemed necessary. In the long run, the narrative I have been presented with seems plausible. However, politics is a ruthless game. The question arises: who will assume the parliamentary leadership of the Sunni Ittehad Council in the National Assembly after its integration into the PTI? Will it be Sahibzada Hamid Raza or someone nominated from within the ranks of the PTI? PTI has already put forward Omer Ayub Khan as its candidate for Prime Minister. If he were to be elected, he should assume the position of Leader of the Opposition in the future National Assembly. The question arises: why would Sahibzada Hamid Raza relinquish the esteemed position of Leader of the Opposition after sacrificing his party, "Qurban"? I am skeptical of their "good intentions"; while playing the political power game, they are being trusted more than necessary.

Nevertheless, a mere reporter has no authority to question anyone's intentions. Having observed the long-standing history of national politics, I understand the importance of commanding control within a political party. During the elections of 1988, when the esteemed Benazir Bhutto's government was in power, Khawaja Ghulam Haider Wyne, who emerged from the ranks of the Muslim League, was appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It was decided by the opposition constituencies that, after a long association with the Pakistan Peoples Party, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, having won the seat vacated by a court in Kot Addu, would succeed in bringing it to the National Assembly. When he succeeded in the by-elections, he was not inclined to merge his party, the National Peoples Party, into the Muslim League. Eventually, it was decided that all opposition parties and individuals in the National Assembly should come together. This was named the Combined Opposition Parties (COP) in English. Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi accepted the position of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly in place of Wyne. Although the majority of people sitting in the "Opposition Party" did not feel comfortable with them, they preferred to turn to Nawaz Sharif, who was the Chief Minister of Punjab at the time. They also had the patronage of the eighth amendment. Their relations with the "powerful" were also friendly. Although President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the "powerful" preferred Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi's "experience and cool temperament," in September 1989, despite the bold support of the Presidency and the powerful, the motion of no-confidence against the honorable Benazir Bhutto failed.

Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi remained resolute until his last breath that the motion of no-confidence against the Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was actually unsuccessful due to the apparent "lack of cooperation" by Nawaz Sharif. According to him, individuals who emerged from Punjab and hailed from industrialist families, who were not genuinely fond of Nawaz Sharif, didn't want Benazir Bhutto's motion of no-confidence, which resulted in his being relieved from his position after being elected from the assembly in 1988. They preferred experienced politicians from Sindh to assume the prime ministerial position and complete the five-year term of the assembly established in 1988, due to their cool temperament and composure. After Benazir Bhutto's resignation from the prime ministerial position in 1989, had Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi continued in the prime ministerial position until 1993, he would have become a towering figure, under whose shade no other plant or creature could thrive. Thus, Nawaz Sharif ultimately couldn't reach the position of prime minister after the 1990 elections. The events of the 1988 assembly remind me of the almost amalgamation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf into the Sunni Ittehad Council. Hamid Raza Khan's stature has significantly risen after the aforementioned alliance. As a fundamentally skeptical journalist, I could never comprehend why, as they themselves would face a political force, they would so easily allow themselves to be overshadowed.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore who covers politics, economy and militancy. He can be reached at

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