As the new Chief of Army Staff gets ready to return to Rawalpindi, it is learned that Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is also getting ready to end his self-imposed exile in Dubai and return to Pakistan. Party leaders have told the media that any connection between the two events is purely coincidental; in the words of Senior PPP leader Nadeem Chan, "Zardari’s return has nothing to do with his (General Raheel Sharif's) retirement. He is coming on his own sweet will”.

While that may well be true, surely Mr Chan understands why people would think otherwise; Mr Zardari left the country quite suddenly after making a fiery speech targeting the army. So while his return might have nothing to do with the army, his departure definitely did.

Regardless of these impressions and their influence on the voter base, the dates have aligned quite nicely for the PPP. December 27 marks the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto – Zardari’s expected arrival date in Larkana – Bilawal Bhutto's attacks on the government would have had time to seep in, the Panamagate case will have gone into its second month, and the party would be ready to start its anti-government drive in early 2017 to build up for the coming general elections. 

The PPP gets another boon – or perhaps more accurately, the government gets another bane – Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the general elections may be held before 2018, hinting that if the PPP stood firm on its decision to launch a movement against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 27, the PTI will possibly support it.

Once more we are faced with another possible dharna-like scenario, only this time it is the PPP on the streets and PTI in support. If the notoriously 'friendly opposition' decides to actually take this route heading into the election years, then the nation may be in for a tumultuous period again. Already the Prime Minister is making remarks on reliving the "politics of the 90s".

The PPP needs to put some impetus in the politics if they are to perform well in the next elections and they see this anti-government drive as the perfect opportunity to do so and to shed the 'friendly opposition' tag while at it. If the PTI joins their ranks then the drive takes on a much more confrontational air. With Rawalpindi now an unknown factor, the government can expect another wave of political pressure coming from the opposition.