For many observers of Pakistani politics, the backstabbing of the opposition alliance by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) is not something strange. From the very beginning, the main player in the politics of the Allah-given country has been the military establishment. All political parties and alliances were controlled or manipulated directly or through proxies. The only exceptions can be cited of the National Awami Party, the Awami League, and the Jeay Sindh Movement of G.M. Syed.
Whenever the establishment realized that direct military rule is no more tolerable by the people or its western patrons, it ruled through its proxy political parties in so-called civilian dispensations. And whenever, it became obvious to them that the ruling puppet party has become a political liability, they replaced it with another of their created party. Also, from time to time, according to the needs or requirements of the situation, the establishment initiated democratic and religious movements. This has been the time-tested modus operandi and so far has been very successful in containing real democratic movements and nationalist struggles to gain ground in the politics of the state.
When in the 1960s, the ruling Convention Muslim League became unpopular, and nearly every section of the population was demanding democratic and national rights in an atmosphere of increased hatred towards the indirect military rule, the establishment in order to diffuse the democratic movement launched by National Awami Party, the Awami League and Sindhi nationalists created a party in haste. The Secretary-General of the Convention Muslim League and the foreign minister of the country, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who belonged from a family known for its long-time loyalty with the establishment since the days of East India Company was tasked to form a new party “Pakistan People’s Party”. Overnight, this leader of the Conventional Muslim League became a true sympathizer of the masses, a socialist and a democrat. The establishment gathered all leaders of the Convention Muslim League into People’s Party. Through physical, financial, and media support, Bhutto was not only successful in diverting the agitation against the military rule but also to a large extent diluted the nationalist sentiments of the Sindhi masses that were at the peak in the late 1960s. Ingredients of loyalty to the establishment were so strong in the Bhutto family and the People’s Party that even the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and murders of his sons and daughter could not dent their relationship. In the 1980s, Benazir Bhutto joined the government with the establishment forgetting the humiliation and murder of his father. During the 1990s, she again joined hands with the establishment forgetting the murder of her brother. Again in 2007, she joined hands with the establishment forgetting the cold-blooded murder of her brother Murtaza Bhutto. She took a U-turn after signing the Charter of Democracy with all opposition parties in which the opposition pledged to launch a democratic movement to end the military rule in the country forever. However, within weeks, she ditched the opposition coalition and signed a pact with the establishment to be part of a coalition government under the presidentship of General Musharraf. Although, the establishment did not follow the conditions put forward in the agreement which was brokered by the US and the UK officials and murdered her on her return to Pakistan, the loyalty of the family and the party with the establishment was not affected. After the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the opposition led by Nawaz Sharif tried to convince the People’s Party for the boycott of the elections and the launch of a democratic movement, Bhutto’s family did not comply and arranged with the establishment for ruling the country. It took part in the elections and governed the country for five years with the help of another political outfit of the establishment “Muslim League Q”.
When Nawaz Sharif was declared persona non grata by the army, in 2018, the establishment with the naked rigging of the elections, placed on the throne of the government Imran Khan Niazi, a person with no political credentials. As was expected, he could not manage things, became very unpopular and people openly began to blame the army for the mess created in the country by its chosen government.
The opposition tried to exploit the general unrest created because of the misgovernance and financial miseries of the people by announcing the formation of a broad coalition of opposition parties on a platform named as Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). However, because of their simplicity or lack of political foresight, PPP and the ANP were also allowed to be part of the opposition coalition. ANP was formed in the 1980s under the leadership of Khan Abdul Wali Khan. Since its formation, it was believed that it has joined hands with the establishment and from time to time, the party was rewarded by giving it a share in the government of NWFP province (Now renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
Both PPP and ANP being in the PDM made efforts to dilute the opposition to the establishment and tried to cool down the sentiments of the people against the indirect military rule in the country. They were successful in redirecting the movement from calling the end of direct or indirect military interference in the political affairs of the state into agitation against the government of Imran Khan Niazi. That was the real objective of the establishment and through PPP and ANP, it was accomplished.