LAHORE - As mainstream parties in the Opposition, the PML-N and the PPP share many problems in the prevailing political situation but so far they are unable to develop a common strategy and policy in the National Assembly and outside the Parliament for assorted reasons.

The situation today is different for both parties from the year 2006 when their respective leadership met on joint issues in London to ink a charter of democracy (CoD) against the military government of Pervez Musharraf as well as to pave their own way for return home to take part in the parliamentary politics. The CoD was reached between the PPP and the PML-N through the good offices of their friendly states which had then also changed heart about Musharraf government and wished a new setup.

Political observers and analysts say that .presently no outside mediation is in sight to unite them on pinching issues despite the fact they stay in Opposition under the rule of a hostile third political force after they each had enjoyed five-year term in power over the last 10 years. Both had started the partnership in the new setup on the slogan of giving a very tough time to the PTI on the issues yet they have failed to join hand on any that could match with their claim.

Although they stand close to each other on the question of probe into election rigging and for proceedings of the parliamentary committee, yet they have failed to speak with a single mind on the Supreme Court decision on Aasia Bibi. However, they opposed the violent way adopted by the religious organizations against her acquittal. Both take the ownership of CPEC initiation but they spoke from their own platform when a PM aide allegedly stating on revisiting the same in the very early days of the PTI rule. The government later on clarified the stand and expressed whole hearted commitment with the CPEC.

The top leadership of both parties is facing cases of criminal nature at different stages. The PML-N is obviously in deeper trouble than PPP as its Quaid Nawaz Sharif has already spent time in jail after conviction in a NAB reference and its President Shehbaz Sharif is under investigation and in custody of the anti-corruption watchdog.

In the recent tide of accountability, money-laundering charges are haunting the PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Dr Faryal Talpur. The PPP is already passing through the ordeal of cases against their leaders like Dr Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Memon.

The bureaucrats relating to the PML-N leaders and close friends of Zardari are also in custody and are reportedly, making revelations to the authorities. And the apprehensions loom large about more cases being opened up against leaders of both parties in the time to come. Interestingly both term the cases against them political victimization and ploy of the PTI government to camouflage its own wrongdoings and decisions yet they do not openly condemn the cases against each other since they themselves are responsible for instituting most of them during their own governments. Both want to build pressure on the government but they are unsuccessful so far.

If one feels substance in the recently made claim by the PTI leaders about their political opponents seeking NRO to get rid of the existing predicament, one does not find them even on the same page on that count although reports suggest that both have back-channel contacts.  It is clear that both parties are avoiding confrontation with the institutions and going too far against government. The PPP has openly announced to support the government to come out of the crisis but the PML-N is still taking time despite the fact, it claims the ownership of giving much to the country in terms of development and prosperity.

Their narrative about the judiciary has become quite tone down from the past as they are not willing to create any negative impression as long as they are in the legal battle.

In view of their volume and worth they both desire to play a leading role in politics and abhor putting all their eggs into the basket of smaller political parties but at the same time, they are reluctant to take initiative in this respect. The example in hand is Asif Ali Zardari’s voice for bringing a resolution against alleged failures of the PTI government but he stayed short of doing anything practical. And it was the JUI-F which came forward and took the initiative to get them united but top leadership of both parties failed to live up to his demand reportedly, to avoid selling out their major position to a comparatively lower ranked party. They both are striving to keep their independent ideology to maintain and increase their respective vote-bank on its basis yet they have failed to draw common lines on which they can cooperate on the issues without encroaching upon the ideological domain of each other.

Both parties want to firm up their footings on the respective forum. The PPP is banking on Sindh for ruling that province while the PML-N is a leading party in Punjab, but in opposition in National and the Punjab Assemblies. They need common ground to strengthen their hold in their respective role.

At the level of PML-N and the PPP, the whole dependence is on Sharifs and Zardaris and solid mechanism and common grounds are missing to guide their respective leadership at second tier in case of any tough time on the toppers would fall due to court cases or any other reasons. Still both appear in a battle to outshine each other and lacking the required trust level although apparently they are showing friendly gesture impressing the mind they have buried the hatchet of what they held and said against each other in the past.