ISLAMABAD - The reorganisation of Pakistan People’s Party can still take time as PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari does not have a final list for his new team, The Nation learnt yesterday.

Reports said Bilawal’s father, Asif Ali Zardari, had just given him a go-ahead to make necessary changes as the party prepares to improve its popularity graph.

But Zardari, the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians chief, had claimed a number of times that he never stopped Bilawal from taking effective control of the party. There were indications earlier too that the senior Zardari wanted to give Bilawal a chance to form his own team but the long overdue reorganisation never took place.

Recently, Bilawal held a series of meetings in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad to finalise the process in time to mobilise workers for the 2018 elections.

There were speculations that the axe was about to fall on most of the office bearers in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Bilawal delayed action to consult with his father. Again, a new series of meetings is expected before the possible new team emerges on the scene.

Senior PPP leaders told The Nation, the old guards were running from pillar to post to catch a berth in the new team and avoid becoming relics of the past. Likewise the fresh aspirants were excited over the prospects of their future and have been lobbying to become part of the Bilawal-led young team. Former Prime Ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, according to te sources, were not too optimistic to get powerful slots in the new set-up.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Manzoor Ahmed Watoo too seems to have played his innings unless Zardari intervenes to save him. Bilawal’s close aides said he wanted a complete overhauling in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but did not have a list of proper replacements. “Bilawal has not made up his mind on appointments as yet. He wants another round of consultations before finalising names for the new team. Qamar Zaman Kaira leads the race for the top Punjab slot,” a close aide said.

Then, he said, Bilawal was looking for suitable candidates for the central set-up and could only find the same old people.

“Bilawal is not against older people but wants a lead role for the youngsters.  He wants experience plus energy,” the PPP leader’s confidante added.

Bilawal is likely to return to Islamabad soon from the United States where he is staying with his father. He is expected to launch consultations with senior leadership of the party from Islamabad. Later, the PPP chief will meet office-bearers, activists and followers of the party from across Pakistan. Opposition leader in the Senate, Aitzaz Ahsan is a staunch supporter of a youth-dominated PPP but Bilawal has at least once rejected his proposal telling him, “I also need people like you.”

Ahsan still insists Bilawal will be better off with the fresh blood than relying on veterans – who largely lost the 2013 polls and played no role to lift the party’s popularity. Reports said Asif Ali Zardari was also not ready for extensive changes as desired by Bilawal and die-hard workers. The father and the son have been discussing the overhauling for a while.

Senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said he was not aware of any development to make him the party’s Punjab chief.

“There will be reorganisation but I don’t know if I will be part of the new team or not. It is the leadership’s prerogative,” he remarked.

Kaira said Bilawal had been consulting workers and leaders to finalise a strategy for the reorganisation.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Baber said the reorganisation was a continuous process and office bearers keep on changing in parties.

“The aim is to do better in the elections. Bilawal has a vision and he has been consulting the leaders as well as activists. The new team should be a blend of experience and youth,” he commented.

Close aides said Bilawal wanted to go solo in the 2018 polls and was against making alliance with parties like the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf or the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) in Punjab.

The PPP and the PTI are already knitted in a loose alliance aimed at taking on the government jointly in the parliament. However, this cooperation is confined to the parliament and top leadership has never been in contact for a formal alliance.

Asif Ali Zardari, the sources said, was softer on the possibilities of alliance with the PTI or other parties to perform better in the influential Punjab province.

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.

The sources said once the PPP reorganisation was complete and Zardari and Bilawal have finalised it, the two will consider the options of contacting other parties to challenge the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in the 2018 polls in Punjab.