LAHORE  -   PPP celebrated 90th birth anniversary of party founder and former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Saturday and the focus of activity was Sindh, the power base of the party.

The Pakistan Peoples Party, which was once the true national political force with considerable presence in almost all parts of the country, has shrunken to Sindh for past several years. The celebrations of Bhutto’s birth anniversary were reflective of this fact as no major events happened in other parts of the country.

Besides this politico-geographical crunch, the tradition zeal among the party cadres about Bhutto has dwindled, especially over the last couple of years, though the party leaders from top to bottom still attach themselves strongly with the achievements and ideology of the PPP founder.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was due to address a function at the Lahore High Court Bar Association in the city on the invitation of People’s Lawyers Forum after he had addressed an event in Karachi the same day.

But he did not come to rain and cloudy weather and ended up at addressing the city lawyers and workers through video link, to the dismay of party workers who have drastically shrunk in number and are generally demoralised because of the disconnection with central leadership.

They certainly would have felt rejoiced and galvanised had Bilawal come to Lahore, which would have been his second visit after the July 25 general elections.

The party chairman was also scheduled to reach Bilawal House Lahore after the PLF event where his meeting with the party’s main leaders on the political situation and organisational matters was due. The PPP city organisation had made arrangements to receive him and had decorated The Mall with flexes and banners on that count.

Except that function, there was no significant event formally organised to celebrate Bhutto’s birth anniversary.

PPP Punjab Information Secretary MPA Syed Hassan Murtaza told this scribe the anniversary activity had been kept without any pomp and show due to demise of senior leader of the party and former Minister Malik Hakeem Khan.

He even went on to claim that the party co-chairperson had advised them not to hold cake cutting functions as the PPP was mourning the loss of its senior leader. Otherwise, he said, the people at their own level are celebrating the birthday event of the party Quaid.

In Karachi, cake cutting ceremony was held at the official level which was also attended by Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah.

The history remembers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a leader who gave 1973 constitution to the country, laid foundation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, helped declare Ahmadis outside the ambit of Islam and lifted morale of the nation which was quite low after the Fall of Dhaka in 1971.

The PPP takes great credit to the achievements of Bhutto and terms his thoughts and ideas as iconic for the progress of the country. And, it was Punjab in the beginning which admired highly the services of Bhutto and gave highest number of votes to the PPP in 1970 elections. Although Bhutto was executed in June 1979 during the Martial Law regime of late General Ziaul Haq, the PPP workers never let him die in their hearts.

Bhutto’s charisma and his legacy of love for the downtrodden paid to his daughter Benazir Bhutto, who also proved to be a true disciple of her father. By following his father’s political philosophy, she also secured a permanent life in the hearts of the party workers, besides earning universal acclaim.

Benazir was twice elected prime minister of the country that speaks volumes of how strongly the party is ingrained in the masses on the basis of Bhuttoism.

During the period of late Benazir Bhutto, the birth anniversary of her father was observed quite enthusiastically by organising Bhutto melas, seminars, cake cuttings and other events throughout the country.

But that brilliance of celebration appears to have gone off now. Lahore, which once throbbed with the Bhutto slogans, also appears to have gone to slumber over the last several years.