When PPP Co-chairman, Asif Ail Zardari lost his composure at the Islamabad event, mocking and threatening the army – ostensibly, just former President Pervez Musharraf – it presented a vexing dilemma for Nawaz Sharif. Does he side with his political ally, whose support was instrumental in holding off the PTI horde and its backers at the gates of the Parliament and beyond; or does he side with the military, which has been growing in influence ever since, and still holds the power to make or break his government? Does he take the side of a party that shares countless characteristics – and countless vices – with his, or the party whom he ‘shares’ power with? A snubbed iftar invitation and a press conference later, we know what choice has been made, yet no one expected this ‘disagreement’ to extend beyond the realms of catchy sound bites and talk show speculation. It seems there is trouble in the democratic paradise.

Ahead of the LG polls the PPP has started making efforts to bring all opposition parties together to form an alliance against PML-N, and special effort has been made to get the great enemy, the PTI, on board. Former Punjab Governor and PPP South Punjab President Makhdoom Ahmed succinctly revealed this development; going on to criticise the PML-N style of government and them using the ‘Jagg Punjab Jagg’ slogan, which he claims is negative regional identity politics. The fact that the PPP itself follows a similar pattern of governance and relies heavily on Sindhi nationality and the Bhutto personality cult to get votes was blissfully lost on Mr Ahmed. A serious case of selective memory recollection aside, this represents an interesting development. Does this signal the beginning of the end for the relatively happy marriage between the PPP and the PML-N; or is this a just another political manoeuvre by the PPP, one that is tolerated at the local body level as valid campaigning, while key partnership agreements remain secure at the federal level?

The coming days shall make this question clear, as will the intensity and the vehemence of the anti-PML-N campaign – if there is any. Another important aspect of this is the possible alliance between the PPP and the PTI. Imran Khan’s party has shown it is not averse to accepting PPP deserters, old feudals, and electables into party ranks, as opposed to its ‘corruption-free’ outlook; but aligning itself with the PPP in its full glory would be a completely separate matter. Would it join a party which it has heavily criticised and insulted over the past years to achieve a few more seats, or would it stick to it’s manifesto and philosophy and snub the party staffed with the “most corrupt persons”?