ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party eyes to regain Punjab as the party celebrated the 88th birthday of founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto yesterday.

Punjab was the original stronghold for the senior Bhutto but the PPP lost it to centre-right parties after the controversial execution of the PPP founder.

It has since been struggling to make an impact but has disappointed in the recent past. The performance in 2013 general polls and the 2015 Local Governments elections could not have been any worse.

The PPP is now devising a strategy for a comeback in Punjab with the help of other parties in the electorally vital province.

As a stepping stone, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto will tour Punjab in the coming days. According to the tentative schedule he will reach Lahore on January 9 and hold a party meeting. He is expected to attend a mass wedding ceremony on January 10 and address a meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association on January 11.

Bilawal, who wants to reorganise the party in Punjab has long been awaited by the provincial party leaders who believe voters can only be attracted if he plays well.

Senior PPP leaders said the party was in contact with all the parties for seat adjustment, if no alliance is made, for the 2018 polls.

“Once we have completed the reorganisation, we will look further. Seat adjustment and alliance can both be considered when we speak to the other parties,” said PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira.

He added the reorganisation may start with Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but will be spread across the country.

In a tweet after cutting the cake on Bhutto’s birth anniversary, Bilawal said, “We are with Bhutto; martyrdom is our goal.”

He paid tributes to the late Bhutto crediting him with introducing democracy and public awareness. He was upbeat about the party’s comeback in the next polls.

Bilawal’s father, Asif Ali Zardari, said Bhutto gave the country a unanimous constitution which envisages the power to make or amend the constitution and the laws on behalf of the people rests with the “parliament and parliament alone.”

Charismatic Bhutto – as the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan - changed the hue of Pakistani politics with his populist approach in the country. The PPP sympathisers expect some fireworks by Bilawal to conquer the Punjab fort.

Meanwhile, the PPP workers celebrated Bhutto’s birth anniversary by donating blood to hospitals and holding cake cutting ceremonies across the country.

The main ceremony was held at Bhutto’s resting place in Garhi Khuda Bux in Larkana. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah led a PPP squad to Garhi Khuda Bux Bhutto to offer prayers and placed wreaths on the grave of Bhutto. Bilawal cut the cake at his residence in Karachi.

“January 5 celebrations at Bilawal House. Cutting tricolour cake. Happy Birthday ZAB,” said Senator Sherry Rehman from the site. She added, “Happy Birthday to the great Pakistani leader who gave Pakistan’s poor, it’s women, it’s labour a say at home, and the nation it’s voice abroad.”

The PPP workers arranged functions in all cities of the country where leaders highlighted life and political vision of Bhutto. Cakes were cut at the end of the functions to mark the birthday of the PPP founder.

Born on January 5, 1928, Bhutto laid the basis for the democratic process in the country with the formation of the PPP on November 30, 1967. He contested general elections in 1970 and was handed over the presidency in December 1971.

The PPP won the 1977 parliamentary elections, However, a conservative alliance alleged widespread rigging and civil disorder escalated across Pakistan. Finally on July 5, 1977, then army chief General Ziaul Haq deposed Bhutto in a coup, and had the former Prime Minister controversially tried and executed by the Supreme Court in 1979 for authorising the murder of a political opponent.

While Bhutto’s legacy is contentious, his party, the PPP, remains one of the largest in Pakistan and his daughter Benazir Bhutto emerged as Prime Minister after winning the Pakistani General elections of 1988 following Ziaul Haq’s death.

In all the PPP has been voted into power on five separate occasions 1970, 1977, 1988, 1993 and 2008. Better performance in Punjab has always been the key to gaining majority in the National Assembly.