The “will-they won’t-they?” speculation of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on November 2, in typical soap opera fashion, culminated in a shoving match caught on camera on November 3. The PAT has thus distanced itself from its former “cousin”, as Tahir-ul Qadri described the relationship between the parties, however, we are quite certain that when it is expedient, PAT will flip-flop back into the arms of PTI.

On Thursday, a heated exchange of words broke out between PTI leader Naeemul Haq and PAT leader Khurram Nawaz Gandapur outside the Supreme Court, just as they were going to address the media after a court hearing on Panama leaks scandal. Haque accused Gandapur of using abusive language and Gandapur said he was pushed by Haq. This was just a small display of the larger estrangement.

PTI is accused of showing little regard for its allies by not taking them into confidence over its decision to call off the Islamabad ‘lockdown’. On Friday, a PTI senior leader said his party believed in ‘solo flight’ and that PTI cannot be dictated by small parties. However, the fact is that even some of the PTI members, those at the district level, were not aware of the decision. By the evening of November 1, there was confusion among the PTI ranks, what to talk of ‘small’ parties.

It’s not just the PAT that seemed irked, PML-Q Information Secretary Kamil Ali Agha also stated that although the PTI had taken the decision to call off the November 2 protest on its own, “it should consult its allies in the future.” The PML-Q claims that 800 PML-Q workers were arrested as they were at the forefront of the Panamagate protest.

PAT has said that they would not join any PTI protest drive as a “courtesy”, but would need to enter into some kind of written code of conduct. That is quite a demand to make, and PAT would be naïve to assume that it can get much traction in Pakistani politics without the media frenzy that PTI brings. Similarly, as a minority party, PTI should not be alienating allies. It is a party that plays its politics via the threat of street power, and that requires numbers. Allies are instrumental if pressure has to be kept on the state institutions to solve Panamagate and make the ruling party accountable.