ISLAMABAD  -  The political rivals of the past - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - are friends now, almost. They have each and every thing in common — strategy may be different — when it comes to a plan to oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling alliance in the centre. Other smaller opposition parties like JUI-F and ANP are also backing the PPP and PML-N against the Imran-led government.

Being part of the opposition, both PPP and PML-N are together in their political ambitions. They are being led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F under the umbrella of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and now seem willing to do everything to throw Prime Minister Imran Khan out of power and the reasons for their anti-Imran campaign are quite obvious. Among the most convincing are the corruption cases against the top leadership of both the parties. Their outburst against the ruling PTI could hardly find a parallel in the recent history. Interestingly, Imran Khan was alone when in opposition and almost alone now in power.

On the other side, PPP and PML-N are united in their views and actions, maybe for the time being. However, something bitterly comes back to segregate them, bite them. It’s nothing else but their past statements against each other that come to haunt them, especially when they jointly launch a tirade against the PTI while claiming clean hands in politics.

PPP and PML-N were bitter political rivals until Imran Khan came into power in 2018. Having been the bitter political rivals, they crossed each and every limit against each other during the election campaigns and public rallies, without having any hint that a third party may emerge on the political arena of the country to push them together to the accountability process. They had never ever thought that they would be fighting the ‘newcomer’ together.

Top leadership of both the parties has had been accusing each other of looting national exchequer, accumulating wealth abroad, giving little weight to the country’s defence, Kashmir issue and what not. The leadership of these two parties never missed an opportunity to lash out at each other for their respective stance on the national issues and most importantly, accused each other of looting national resources.

Most recently, there was no one else but one of their political allies, JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to remind them both about what they were in the past as he spoke to the participants of the All Parties Conference held in Islamabad on September 20. The moot was hosted by the PPP to devise a strategy to throw Imran out of power. The organizers have had to cut his live speech as Fazl reminded them of what they had been in the past.

As Imran Khan challenged both of them, these two parties have got together to fight him out of power. As they become friends and get united, they find it difficult now to accuse each other of having plundered national wealth and acted against the state interests. Their guns are now pointed towards Imran Khan.

The moment PPP and PML-N get united and launch a tirade against Imran Khan, mainstream and social media could find enough material in the shape of their past statements, to contest their fresh views on the national issues. The leaders of both the parties may find it difficult now to pinpoint as to who had actually looted national exchequer and ruined the country, economically but Imran Khan and his cabinet members. As they blame Imran Khan for the bad economy, having been pro-establishment, media comes to remind them both having accused each other for the same in the past. The replay of their past statements on media remains a source of irritation for both PPP and PML-N.

The clips running on mainstream and social media suggest that PPP and PML-N leadership have had been accusing each other of looting national resources while in power and also assured their voters and supporters to recover the lost money as well. Labelling ‘Chor’ and ‘Daku’ to each other was an accepted norm in the past politics when these two political parties were able to rule the country with corruption top scourge in the country. Those in power instead of curbing corruption hit headlines for looting national exchewquer at least their past statements suggest so.

Former Punjab Chief Minister and now PML-N President, Shahbaz Sharif, appearing in his unique sentimental outburst had declared to drag Zardari on the streets of Karachi, Larkana and Lahore. He had assured his supporters during a public rally ahead of 2013 general elections that he will recover national wealth if comes into power.

Sharifs knew how PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari purchased Surrey Mehal and how the PPP leader stashed wealth to foreign banks. The then Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is on record to have said that ‘Ali Baba and forty thieves’ in Islamabad were busy plundering the national exchequer. He had said that each and every penny of the people’s hard-earned money would be recovered from the plunderers. Sharif had also disputed the then PM Gillani’s remarks over Swiss cases and said that he was siding with ‘looters’. Nawaz Sharif was quite sure that all the public money was eaten up by Zardari as he addressed a public rally.

Similarly, Zardari knew how Nawaz Sharif purchased the London properties. He believed that God will never forgive him if he spared Nawaz Sharif for looting national exchequer. Going by his claims, Zardari had assured his supporters that forgiving Sharifs was no option then and that they would be taken to task for their illegal acts. Another PML-N leader Abid Sher Ali is also on record when he declared PPP ‘a party of robbers’.

Furthermore, Nawaz Sharif is on record to have declared former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto supporter of Indian government against Sikhs who have been struggling for a separate country in India. He held that Benazir was destroying Pakistan.

The recent revelations about the politicians having met with Army Chief have stirred a new controversy as if the politicians should meet the Army leadership privately. Both PPP and PML-N used to accuse each other of having born in the nursery of establishment. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is on record to declare Nawaz Sharif ‘son of Ziaul Haq’, a former military dictator. “Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is son Zia-ul-Haq. The real father of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is Zia-ul-Haq,” said Bilawal during a public rally. PML-N has had been accusing PPP of coming into power with the help of a dictator. When both these parties now accuse PTI of having fallen in line with the establishment, media plays with their statements in which they accused each other of having support of the establishment. It is to mention here that both PPP and PML-N had voted for extension of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Both PPP and PML-N had been accusing each other of election rigging but now they are united against PTI for coming into power as a result of the ‘rigged elections’. According to the official sources, there were 413 election petitions after 2013 general elections as compared to 90 after 2018 general elections which put PTI in power.

Interestingly, during Musharraf era, Maulana Fazlur Rehman who now heads the PDM against the PTI government, was part of the government and labelled both PPP and PML-N as ‘looters’. Few years later in the recent government’s tenure, he was found reluctant in declaring Asif Ali Zardari a corrupt person when a TV anchor asked him to comment on the perception. Fazl who is now going to lead the campaign against the ‘illegitimate’ government, is on record that 2013 general elections were massively rigged but never launched a campaign against the then PPP government.  

PPP and PML-N aided by other smaller opposition parties are going to hold their first anti-PTI rally under the banner of PDM in Gujranwala on October 16 (Friday). Both the parties seem to be in a state of frustration. They have entered into a marriage of convenience to fight out Imran Khan. Their political baggage from a long career has become a source of irritation for them now. At least that is what many political experts believe. Mistakes they made in the yesteryears are hurting them in 2020. It seems that the political parties would continue to be haunted by ghosts of the past even in the coming election.