LAHORE - There is greater realisation in the PPP ranks that party leadership should mend fences with the mighty establishment to survive in politics, it has been learnt in background interviews with the party men.

Asif Ali Zardari’s recent statement supporting the army chief, not officially contradicted so far, was in fact a well thought out move to shun the anti-establishment image of the party, they said with authority.

According to them, it was an indirect message to the top hierarchy in the armed forces that PPP was ready to play ball with them provided it would also review its current antagonistic approach to the party and its leadership.

Party think tanks have also reached the conclusion that PPP would lose power in Sindh also if there is no reconciliation with the powers that-be well before the next general elections. While a close aide of the PPP leader Mr Rehman Malik along with the owner of a media house are at the forefront to broker a deal with the military establishment, a major chunk of party men from Punjab are also in favour of maintaining a good working relationship with it. They are of the considered opinion that PPP cannot survive in politics by remaining at logger heads with the real power in this country.

A resolution submitted by a PPP lawmaker in the Punjab Assembly supporting another term for the army chief has not been withdrawn as yet, and the mover claims he would not take it back since it was an expression of his party chief’s will to side with the army at this moment. “I have no instructions from the party leadership to withdraw the resolution,” Khurrum Jehangir Wattoo told The Nation.

Zardari had to leave the country in June last year after a hard-hitting statement he issued against the military generals warning them of exposing their alleged misdeeds. He was literally furious at that time apparently over the arrest and prosecution of his friend, Dr Asim Hussain and tightening of noose around others.

It was then taken as an open declaration of war against the generals, both former and serving. But he could not absorb the heat which ensued after his bold utterances. He had to leave the country before he could execute his threat. Senior party lot is still struggling to defend his self-exile in the media.

Sources said that while sitting abroad, the PPP chief was secretly working on a plan to lead a coalition government at the centre after the 2018 general elections. “He is working on the possibilities of making a grand election alliance against the PML-N comprising all opposition parties including the PTI,” they said.

As a prelude to the bigger alliance, the opposition parties in Punjab Assembly have already made a joint front against the government on issues of public interest.

Opposition Leader Syed Khurshid Shah in his recent interview with The Nation did not rule out the possibility of a grand election alliance before the next elections. “Enemy of enemy could be a friend any time,” he had reacted when asked if the PTI would also be part of it.

Former Punjab Governor Makhdum Syed Ahmad Mehmood also thinks that all opposition parties will have to get united to prevent the PML-N from capturing power yet for another term. Makhdum has the ears of Asif Ali Zardari who takes advice from him on political matters.

Mian Manzoor Wattoo is already active to unite the Punjab opposition on a single platform. He had called a meeting of all opposition parties ahead of the local elections last year but the decisions taken on that occasion could not be executed as planned.

Analysts believe that after its poor performance in the local bodies’ elections, there is a growing feeling even within the PTI leadership that it could not defeat the PML-N in Punjab on its own. The bickering over acquiring leadership roles in Punjab has further demoralised its cadres.

It is also learnt that Makhdum Ahmed Mehmood and his brother-in law in the PTI, Mr Jehangir Tareen can use their good offices to bring the PPP and the PTI closer together to jointly confront the common enemy.

But all this cannot be executed unless the establishment which still wields considerable influence over state institutions takes a favorable view of the PPP, and its inclusion into the anticipated alliance against the government. The assumption is that present military leadership is not feeling comfortable with the PML-N at the moment.