KARACHI - For the first time since its establishment four decades ago, Pakistan Peoples Party has lost significant ground and popularity in the interior of Sindh to its opponents. This was evident from a recent province-wide informal protest call, which, to the dismay of the PPP leaders, failed to attract wider public participation – a hallmark of the party claiming its roots in the masses.The protest demonstrations were held in certain pockets of the PPP’s home province against the Supreme Court arrest order in the rental power projects corruption case against the incumbent prime minister and other accused. But things remained quiet and normal in most areas, particularly those where the nationalists hold political sway now. Even in the areas controlled by the influential ‘electable’, there was no big protest or agitation.In Qasimabad, Hyderabad, which is said to be the stronghold of nationalists, the life was normal and there was no shutter down in the market. In Hyderabad the protest was in handful of pockets where the Jiyalas came out to force the shutter down of shops and blocked the traffic. In Karachi metropolis few Jiyalas did manage to create hurdles to the evening traffic flow. Political observers said that the PPP has now come to realise that it has lost support among the Sindhis. Only five years ago when Benazir Bhutto was murdered outside the Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, the entire Sindh closed down and the supporters of PPP went berserk and torched or destroyed government properties worth billions of rupees. Hundreds of vehicles both private and public were reduced to ashes.But five year on the things have changed vastly for the PPP as a number of political outfits in Sindh are now successfully challenging the party founded by Z A Bhutto. Over these five years of bad governance, large-scale corruption and voter apathy, the party has lost grip in the areas once considered its unchallenged bastions of power.Political pundits feel that due to the policies of Asif Ali Zardari, who had ignored the party loyalists and the diehard Jiyalas, the party has become a second political force to its opponents in Sindh being led by PML-F of Pir Pagara, who indulging in popular politics for the first time, had managed to bring together all the inimical forces to PPP.President Zardari, who is camping at Bilawal House in Karachi for the last one month, has turned this residence into Fort Bilawal. Its security has been enhanced and one could easily compare it to the security of Fort Knox where all the bullion of United States of America is kept in lockers. Surrounding areas of Fort Bilawal, which was further fortified after Zardari became president, was already having high RCC walls. Since Monday evening, additional police force and police vans have been deployed all around the area. The roads have been blocked by placing water tankers and the businesses around it are shut by official order to give security to the residents of Fort Bilawal.After the Supreme Court order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf spread like a Tasmanian wildfire, rumours were set in motion that the next target could be the highest office of the land. Though it sound and look improbable but there is still a general feeling that all those ‘corrupt’ elements would be soon forced to leave and punished for committing corruption at an uncertain time when anything looks possible.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Jan-2013 here.