Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders from Punjab let lose a collective sigh of relief when Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made his grand entry into politics; now they have a counter narrative, and a chunk of airtime. Since no PPP leader can make a speech in Sindh without mentioning their ever-mercurial rivals and partners – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – it has inevitably led to them springing into action. And when the MQM springs into action, they are a sight to behold.

Now, the MQM has quit the provincial government coalition. On Tuesday, governor Sindh, who belongs to the MQM, accepted the resignations of MQM cabinet ministers and advisors and the MQM is set to play the part of the honourable opposition. Reshuffling of governments and cabinets is an ordinary and innocuous part of the democratic system, yet its timing in the overall scheme of things is causing some serious problems.

What are political parties expected to say at rallies which are intended to drum up support but there is no election in sight? They can’t draw on their past performance to claim they should be re-elected; there is no election. They cannot detail manifestos and promise reforms for the same reason. What they can do, and in the case of PPP and MQM, what they are doing, is digging up old ghosts and rekindling past fears. Bilawal has rehashed his family name into an ideology and is fiercely campaigning for a united Sindh, while hitting out at the MQM every chance he gets. These are the only topics that will draw a crowd, get a reaction. The MQM have gone one step further, having seemingly abandoned the ‘Muttahida’ experiment after failing to make a name nationwide, they are reverting to old, ethnicity-based, divisive politics by feeding the ‘mohajir’ fears. Khursheed Shah’s misguided, but ultimately well-intentioned remarks were fixated on out of proportion. The Karachi administrative province was renamed the ‘Mohajir province’, and all of this was followed by theatrics such as holding a black day and quitting the government. What is hard to fathom is what all of this is for? Is this a show for the Local Government polls, an anticipated general election, or just a bid to keep their stock high? In any scenario, this electioneering without elections is further dividing Sindh.