The marriage of convenience between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is on the rocks and no one seems to be willing to rescue it. The two opposition parties had happily aligned themselves against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during the Panamagate hearings, but one tirade from Imran Khan later, everyone is bristling with anger and resentment, even some members of his own party. However, it is difficult to tell if this was a result of a deliberate electoral strategy or Imran Khan being his usual abrasive and spontaneous self.

Despite the fact that both parties have a seat sharing agreement in the upcoming by-election in districts, Imran khan doubled down on his “underhand deal” theory and lashed out against the PPP leadership at a rally held in Chakwal. He did this despite being cautioned by his party members not to do so, and in fact he seemed to relish the idea – that his speeches are not bound by the unspoken rules of political alliances. This may very well further the “Khan” brand that paints him as a principled crusader and resonates with his hardcore fan base, but it will not endear him to any other political party, not even his current coalition members in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PPP’s response has been definitive; once the by-election is over, the possibility of an alliance between the two main opposition parties is over. The brief cooperation between the two was a strained one as it is. Even before Imran Khan’s comments it was evident that the two parties stood for two different paradigms. As Imran Khan met with the Chief of Army Staff Asim Bajwa and returned as an ostensible spokesperson of the man saying that the Chief “stands with democracy”, the PPP was making preparations to commemorate the death anniversary of their party’s founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed by the military, and the legacy of whose death still guides the party.