In the run-up to the 2018 election all political parties are testing waters of possible coalitions, while most splinter factions and electables are weighing their options. All this is expected in the build-up to a major poll. However, the mooted alliance of the two main opposition parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) – through which they planned to back Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s move to bring down the Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif – was always an unlikely one. Years of bitter opposition was seemingly put aside overnight, while sworn threats and cutting insults were forgotten.

However it seems political necessity has its limits. While the earlier meetings of the leaders of both parties with Tahir-ul-Qadri, chief of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), made people think of a possible political alliance among them, as Tahir-ul-Qadri claimed that both Imran and Zardari would sit on his either side, Khan has shunned the possibility of any such coalition in the making. Though Imran says that his party will stand shoulder to shoulder with Tahir-ul-Qadri’s if he launches a protest movement, his statement also indicates that he, like others, is not ready to commit to such a close association with his PPP Co-Chairman

It can be inferred from the move of PPP and PTI that both parties want to use PAT Chief to further their objectives in Punjab, but beyond that the chances of cooperation are slim. Zardari had already rejected in a subtle manner the possibility of an electoral alliance against Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). Now Imran has also given an indication that no such plan is in the pipeline as he rejects the possibility of being part of any technocratic government and allowing the government to complete its term.

Their inability to figure out their differences and come closer will help no one else but the PML-N in the coming election. Indeed, the news of no possible political alliance of the three parties will relax the leaders of PML-N, but not overmuch – the actual PAT challenge remains as it is.