The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may have hit an all time low. In the October 11 by-polls, the security deposits of all its three candidates for NA-122, NA-144 and PP-147 were forfeited along with other candidates. The candidates could not even secure one-eight of the total votes polled in the constituencies and according to the ECP rules lost the amount submitted to contest. The PPP continues to be on the fast track of its own elimination with its top leadership showing no signs of activity to save the future of what used to be one of the most popular political parties in the country.

The PPP has suffered one too many blows when senior party leaders were targeted in Karachi for corruption during the Ranger’s operation. From shock to outrage and finally pacification, the leaders of the PPP have remained low-key since the clean up operation began in the Sindh government. Around the same time in August Zardari decided to fade into the background and anointed his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as the new party leader.

Bilawal had some words of bravado to say in Karachi, in front of a crowd at the family’s residence, Bilawal House, where he said: “I want to tell those living in a fool’s paradise that the PPP is not over, neither will it be finished. It will rather flourish because after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto, I will now lead it by hoisting its flag.” Clearly the by-poll election results speak otherwise and the loss in Okara is proof. It is said that all the PTI supporters now in Punjab are those, which were previously PPP supporters.

The PPP rose as the supreme party of Pakistan after the 1970 election. It also swept Punjab and gained a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Its presence in all four provinces had marked it as the only “federal” party. This status was retained from 1988 onwards till, in 2013, its defeat in Punjab made it lose that distinction.

PPP has had an unstable ideology since the day it was founded. The party was always been more populist than socialist, as it claimed to be. In 1970, it was already inducting ex-PML feudal landlords into its fold. Its socialism became “Islamic” soon enough, which was further emphasised with the second amendment excommunicating the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. Yet, it is the only moderate party, the only one to push for progressive legislation even today, and it can be argued that it has an important place in the system if it can only drop its mantle of monetary corruption. It will take a miracle to get the PPP to return to its former glory after the mess it has created for itself under Zardari’s leadership.