PPP patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari used the 46th Foundation Day of the party to rally it around the idea of coming back to office in the 2018 elections. Addressing a gathering to mark the Day at Bilawal House in Karachi on Saturday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari also strongly criticized the privatization policy announced by the present government, thus making it the issue on which he wants the party to campaign in the years leading up to the election. He also by implication told the party cadres to wait that long, and signaled his own expectation that the present government would use its tenure fully, as his own party’s government did.

He spoke about the achievements of his father, President Asif Zardari, in office, which was very filial of him, but should not disguise the fact that the 2013 election not only saw the PPP go down to heavy defeat after remaining in office, but saw the rise of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which may well be a potential replacement. Therefore, while Bilawal’s criticism of the PML, implied by his saying that the PPP did not have any groups like N,Q or F, showed his knowing that it suffered vote splits this way, something the PPP did not suffer.

The young scion who spent the party’s years in office studying abroad, would be forgiven for not knowing that the PPP used these years to shower favours on those who had links to the right people, but as he now heads the PPP, he might prefer to choose some other issue on which to oppose the government.

Now ritualistic proclamations of the PPP not being a ‘party of a businessman or mullah or player’ will not even achieve what must be Bilawal’s first goal: rallying the party faithful.

The PPP did not do well in the last election because it had ruled badly. Unless Bilawal can convince the electorate that the PPP will be able to rule well if returned to office, he will not be doing well by it, and will be merely facilitating its potential replacements.