The PPP is in election mode – this much has been clear for a while now. But while the move to secure a stronger following in Punjab was expected, the journey into KP is a little more surprising. Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s three-day visit to KP starting Saturday confirms its plans to rejuvenate the party in the province. But looking to secure a completely new region in the next general elections might not be as easy as it seems. PPP has won in Punjab before, doing so in KP will be much harder, with regional parties such as ANP also trying to wrest control back from PTI.

On the face of it, this is pure pragmatism, and does not mean that the PPP is seriously expecting to win anything substantial in KP. If for nothing else, investing into KP would offer a small role to play as a member of a government alliance, or even on the opposition benches, and that can be important, if the government does not have an overt majority like the PML-N has had over the past four years. Finding holes in KP against PTI and filling seats might actually be easier than Punjab if the proper alliances are made, PML-N has the added advantage of having ruled in their province on many occasions.

Political parties in the past have mostly been content with playing regional politics, rocking the boat by challenging each other in various strongholds is only positive for the voters in the long run. Regional politics does not allow for healthy competition as in a free-for-all – if the parties are looking to secure seats in every area without conceding ground to keep winning from their strongest regional support base, established politicians are not likely to allow for a new crop of representatives to come in.

While the PPP is acting out of self-interest, the move to spread nationally might spur other parties to do the same, and hence will be a welcome change from the tradition of keeping out of one another’s territories.