Mistrust makes ARD protest campaign fizzle out
ISLAMABAD: The movement of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) is fizzling out because of lacklustre response from the general public, lack of interest by the alliance’s leaders and mistrust between its mainstream component parties.
The ARD had announced a vigorous programme of countrywide movement and protest rallies, but it failed so far to make an impact that might trouble the government and President General Pervez Musharraf.
The lack of ideological harmony between the two main component parties – the Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – is one of the major reasons for ARD’s dreary campaign.
A PML-N leader told Daily Times that the PPP-P changed its hawkish stance against the general and modulated its tone after the release of Asif Ali Zardari.
He said General Musharraf’s recent remarks that the PPP-P could play a role in national politics also created some misunderstanding among ARD parties. The PML-N leader said the PPP-P was participating in the ARD’s campaign half-heartedly. He said the PPP-P could not justify changing of venues and cancellation of public meetings. The ARD leaders realise that the commonness on one point has not lead to unity of thought. The top brass of the both constituent parties has already admitted that the political ideologies of both PPP-P and the PML-N were entirely different.
A senior ARD leader claimed that even the MMA seemed ‘disappointed’ after holding rallies in various cities. “Some MMA leaders have conveyed to us that they are totally disappointed after the cold response from the people and the low turnout at the rallies,” he added. However, Senator Farhatullah Babar, the PPP-P spokesman, said the momentum of protests always grew slowly. “The opposition is determined to mobilise public opinion against Musharraf’s dictatorship. We may not expect a mass movement overnight but the process of mobilisation will continue,” he added. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N acting parliamentary leader in the National Assembly (NA), said his party was always very clear about the objectives of the anti-Musharraf campaign. He said the PML-N was fully aware about the strong and weak points of the campaign. “We have a vision as how to proceed with the countrywide protest,” he added. The PML-N leader added that he could authentically explain the position of his party. He stated he was unclear about the approach of other ARD parties in the fast changing political situation.
He parried the question when asked to comment on the future of ARD’s campaign. He said the PML-N had proposed a meeting of the ARD by the end of this month to review performance and set goals in light of the performance.