The thing about politics is that it hardly ever fails to disappoint. War of the words, the mudslinging and back channel deals contain many a surprising twist and turn. But when it comes to Pakistan, many would agree that this suspense increases manifold for the Pakistani political arena, composed of a few mainstream parties but also many smaller parties. After laptop schemes, bickering over tax returns and the defamation of a charity hospital, the most recent addition has been the alleged alliance between Imran Khan's PTI and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad's AML. It has raised a furor of questions about the need for this alliance, its benefits and the overall political dynamics of opposition parties.
Although Sheikh Rashid and senior leaders of PTI have denied any formal alliance, it is believed that the two parties concurred to support each other, such that PTI will not nominate a candidate for Rawalpindi NA 55, home constituency to Sheikh Rashid and AML will support PTI in PP-11 ad PP-12 constituencies. Rawalpindi occupies an important place in electoral politics as it includes 7 National Assembly and 14 Punjab Assembly constituencies.
It is quite easy to understand Sheikh Rashid's incentive for such an alliance. Since 2008, he has lost elections thrice in a row against PML-N. His previous successes were noticed when he was backed by either Sharif or Musharraf. Now with Musharraf no where in sight and Sharifs showing spite for Rashid's alignment with Musharraf, Awami Muslim League serves to benefit from Khan's popularity. There are rumors about Rashid rejoining PML-N but the threat of resignation of Hanif Abbasi and Shakil Awan did not permit this. In order to enter mainstream politics, Sheikh Rashid needs to affiliate himself with a strong party. PTI was thus the only recourse left to him.
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