LAHORE - People are cursing themselves for having voted to power a party that only added to their miseries during the past four years of its misrule and failed to take a single step that could bring relief to them. They believe that the present setup is going to complete its five-year tenure mainly because it is difficult to launch any public movement against it in the absence of a leader who could take everyone along. The reason is the split mandate of the 2008 elections, as a result of which almost all important parties are in power either at the centre or in the provinces. And those still left out are not interested in wasting their energies in agitations. They are preparing themselves for the next elections, whose timing is to be decided by the ruling party.During the past four years, no opposition alliance could be launched, probably because no leader is in a position to gather the anti-government parties on a single platform. And the absence of such a leader in a country of some 180 million people is not a good sign.This only shows that while heterogeneous parties can join hands with the ruling party for ‘booty and bounty’, they do not like to sacrifice their personal interests for the benefit of the downtrodden.Most of the opposition alliances set up in the past were the brainchild of the late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, and none of them is in existence after the death of the veteran leader from Muzaffargarh some years ago.The 2008 elections brought the PPP to power at the centre and in Sindh and Balochistan. In Punjab, the PML-N is the party in power. During the first three years, the PPP remained its ‘unwanted’ coalition partner.In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the Awami National Party is the ruling party, with the PPP as its coalition partner.The Muttahida Qaumi Movement is the coalition partner with the PPP both at the Centre and in Sindh.The JUI-F shared the power with the PPP for some three years and parted ways subsequently, when the Haj scam came to limelight. The prime minister sacked his Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi (a PPP leader) and Mr Javed Swati (a JUI-F nominee).The action against Mr Swati provided the JUI-F leadership with a justification to say goodbye to the coalition.Since then, the party has been following what can be termed a ‘middle course’. It is maintaining contacts with both the ruling coalition as well as the opposition parties. And since Maulana Fazlur Rehman has always had good relations with the PPP, he is in no mood to work against them.As a matter of fact, whenever the PPP has been in a difficult situation, the JUI-F leadership preferred to be seen with them rather than other opposition parties. The party’s support for federal minister Khursheed Shah in the election to the chairmanship of the parliamentary committee that will choose the new Chief Election Commissioner is the latest example.The PML-Q remained an important party even after the 2008 elections. It sat on opposition benches for quite some time before President Zardari made them part of the coalition, mainly to get rid of the MQM’s blackmailing. Though the PPP paid a very heavy political price for taking the perceived killers of Benazir Bhutto along, the leadership succeeded in forming a stable coalition at the Centre and in Sindh.Now the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf of Imran Khan and the Jamaat-i-Islami are the only worthwhile opposition parties in the field.The PML-N has been trying to portray itself as the real opposition, but is stigmatised as a ‘friendly opposition’. On a number of occasions, Mian Nawaz Sharif called for immediate fresh elections ‘to save the country’, but has failed to mount enough pressure.He tried to bring anti-PPP forces closer, but could not get a positive response.His latest ‘do-or die’ movement launched after the conviction for contempt of Prime Minister Gilani has failed to gain momentum.The Jamaat-i-Islami and the PTI want the PML-N legislators to resign from their assembly seats to prove their seriousness for a movement against the PPP-led coalition. But the PML-N is not in a mood to give up their seats.Mr Sharif said on various occasions that if the PML-N lawmakers vacated their seats, the ruling PPP would get a chance to bring the caretaker setup and the Chief Election Commissioner of its own choice – and this would not be in the PML-N’s interest.Prime Minister Gilani himself tried to provoke the PML-N leadership by urging them to quit their seats so that by-elections could be held to fill them. However, the PML-N is not willing to walk into the political trap.So, now Mr Sharif is trying to muster political support in Sindh, a province where the PML-Nalmost evaporated, to be able to give a better performance in the next elections. He has already taken the likes of Mumtaz Bhutto with him and is in contact with other influential families.He has also formed an ‘electoral alliance’ with the PML-Q Likeminded, a group of leaders who had worked as teammates of Gen Musharraf, the number one enemy of Mian Nawaz Sharif, and would part ways with the PML-N chief whenever they get a better option. Everyone knows that these leaders have got closer to the former prime minister to strengthen their own positions, not because of any ideologicalreasons.In such a situation when the leaders are interested only in capturing power – which means taking over all state resources – even at the cost of their so-called principles, there is no ray of hope for the common man. For them the change of government would only mean a new set of cheats in power.