The PMLN has seemingly put its faith in the PPP. Indeed, the latest round of political musical chairs brings with it pledges of how the two opposition parties will support each other’s candidates in all constituencies (bar one) in this month’s by-polls. The Big Two have been here many times before. With the PPP leaving the other high and dry at the last minute. From the U-turn on Musharraf’s Women’s Protection Bill back in 2006 that saw the former hastily support the legislation thereby leaving the PMLN, its then partner for the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), out in the cold. To, more recently, PPP refusals to back the grand opposition alliance candidate for the posts of Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab. Not to mention the failure to reach consensus on presidential nominations. Yet in a possible bid to demonstrate its sudden-found seriousness, the PPP has submitted a resolution to unseat the PTI’s Usman Buzdar; the CM Punjab. The contention being that a National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) report has implicated the latter on charges of unduly transferring a DPO. Thus far, the PMLN appears to be buying it. Meaning that all the brouhaha back in March that saw the PPP throw its lot in with Imran Khan for the two top Senate slots has all but been forgotten. For now. This naturally raises questions regarding the recent distancing of the top PMLN leadership from comments made within the party predicting that PTI’s hold over the Punjab will come undone in just a few months. Though of course this was linked to assertions that the security apparatus would somehow be involved. If true, the upcoming by-elections would provide the necessary legitimate parliamentary cover. At the time the PPP had huffed and puffed that Rana Mashhood’s statement underscored how the younger Sharif had done a deal with the boys in khaki. The PPP’s change of heart may be explained by Asif Ali Zardari being accorded little relief by either the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or the Supreme Court (SC) on the matter of assets. The judiciary is insistent that the former president provide a money trail for the last decade. All of which is seen as part and parcel of Khan’s top-down anti-corruption crusade. No matter that the PPP had not reneged on the Musharraf-honourable exit deal; the breach of which is held in certain quarters as being the principal driving force behind Nawaz Sharif’s fall from grace. There is no doubt that to the Big Two, Usman Buzdar looks like an easy target. Not least because he found himself handpicked by Khan for the post of CM a mere 100 days after joining the party. Back then, the PTI supremo was keen to point out that someone hailing from the most impoverished part of the Punjab would do a better job of steering the helm; the argument being that he would be in touch with real issues on the ground. Be that as it may, Khan must respect the final SC ruling in the DPO transfer case which is due next week. And as for the main opposition parties – they would do well to keep in mind that the democratic process has intrinsic value. It should never be about political advantage or payback. * Published in Daily Times, October 5th 2018.