Can Zardari’s old antics save future of PPP?

Twin city was buzzing with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supporters on December 5. Huge contingents of the Bhutto supporters thronged the city. Islamabad looked more like Larkana with large party hoardings, banners and posters visible across the city. PPP ran a vast advertising campaign to woo the workers to attend the 50th birthday celebrations of the party. Though such enthusiasm was not evident on GT road, nevertheless a campaign was conducted to mobilize the voters across Pakistan to reach the venue. Sticking to its pre-rally claims, PPP was able to gather massive crowds and pulled up a good show of its power at parade ground, Islamabad.

The fact reflects that great ideology of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is in ruins. Other than the hallow rhetoric, concrete efforts to satisfy masses remain bleak. The transformation of the PPP into a regional party has been somewhat steadfast in recent past. But, the conversion of Bhuttoism into Zaradrism had to wait until Asif Ali Zardari came at the helm and single-handedly shook the party roots. His claims in December 5 gathering about the success of his last tenure may not be entirely accurate. There is some credential in his claims as agriculture sectors did perform better as compared to its performance in the current regime.

He boosts his accomplishments of granting rights to Baloch (National Finance Commission Award), extending identity to KP. Zardari claimed he changed Pakistan and increased the salary for poor, women, army men and civilians alike. According to Zardari, the PPP government created abundant employment opportunities, however, during its tenure, unemployment surged from 5% in 2008 to 6.5% in 2012.

Zardari lamented ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for its dismissal economic performance in its current tenure. He termed his tenure a success, where farmers and labours were the primary beneficiaries. However, despite his comparatively favorable agricultural policies, GDP growth was 3.51% in 2012 as compared to 5.74% in current tenure of PML-N. Along with the unemployment (5.9%), inflation had declined to 3.8% as compared to 9.7% in 2012. Moreover, on the positive front for the PPP government, debt to GDP ratio was 63.3% which has soared to 68.2% now. The current account balance is at -4.0% which is low as compared to -1.04 in 2012.

To continue the ideology of Bhutto, PPP continues to strive for better future. This time, it is Bilawal Bhutto who laid the roadmap for the future.

One may not challenge the Zardari rhetoric on Bhutto as according to him, Bhutto was the only real revolutionary leader born after Quaid-e-Azam. No other family endured such atrocities as are inflicted on Bhutto family in the subcontinent. No doubt, Bhutto was instrumental in fighting for the cause of Kashmir, he instigated the movement to create nuclear bomb for Pakistan. He brought the poor to mainstream and helped middle class flourish, and single-handedly revolutionized the institutional capacity of the country has witnessed capitalistic 22 families including landlord and industrialists, controlling Pakistan. It led to widespread poverty and increased the disparity between rich, poor and middle class gradually got wiped out.

Both Zardari and Bilawal vowed to continue the struggle of Bhutto and Benazir, hoping to consolidate democracy. Going into future, Zardari is right, Pakistan depends on the agriculture sector, and we must revolutionize to alleviate the deprived population from poverty by investing in their future.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, despite facing the tremendous challenges against the powerful dictators such as General Ayub Khan and General Zia-ul-Haq, kept fighting with resolve and determination.

PPP has always positioned itself uniquely against all the odds, whether it was the onslaughts from dictators or the non-state actors.

No one can deny the party’s struggle to restore and cherish the democratic setup in Pakistan. But, the problems lies in the fact that PPP continuous to demonstrate and advertise its election campaigns on achievements of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Does it not have anything concrete to boost off its incumbent government in Sindh.

PPP apparently failed to transform the lives of the people of Pakistan and credits itself for taking logical decisions to dismiss the threats from the establishment in its last tenure, but its 5-year rule proved an eye opener for the people of Pakistan. Its dismissal governance, and poor economic performance prompted its legislative members to abandon the party for other potential winners. PPP under Zardari miserably eluded its mission to make economically stronger and egalitarian Pakistan. Was PPP able to decrease the growing disparity between rich and poor or did the middle class grow in its last rule?

Bilawal can attack his opponents with high pitch speeches or may lay down a more efficient and useful roadmap for the future, but unless it does not transform the lives of people in Sindh, hollow promises may not be able to convince the masses in Islamabad or elsewhere. 

Fight against the dictators and autocrats, and rebellion against the capitalist for labours and farmers have been the achievements of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, but now, it is a new era. PPP must deliver in Sindh to convince voters of its future credentials.

Though, Zardari has acknowledged that after saving Nawaz twice, he won’t help again. The reports have emerged in media about reconciliation between the traditional rivals.

Zardari’s initial refusal to shake hands with Nawaz, given his accusation that later always initiate talks when in trouble.

Secondly, though it was Imran Khan and Sheikh Rasheed who were instrumental in exposing Nawaz’s alleged corruption after Panama Papers, PPP and its senior leaders condemned Nawaz throughout the disqualification process and subsequent indictment.

Moreover, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his recent rallies ridiculed Nawaz’s performance and commitment in the current tenure. In Hyderabad recently, he inquired about the two billion rupees promised for Thar were not released by the government.

Against all the odds, both the hypocrites have adopted the much-favored reconciliation policy of Asif Ali Zardari and have agreed to solve their differences. It reflects the hypocrisy, lack of ethics and morality in Pakistan’s politics. Given that Nawaz does not want technocrat government, Zardari’s decision to support Nawaz speak volumes of their behind the scenes alliance to facilitate each other in dire need of time and to fight a common enemy.

The credible efforts of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto will remain with the loyal supporters of PPP, but Zardari’s dismissal performance as president of Pakistan and party chairperson and Bilawal’s lackluster personality have ruined the efforts of the deceased.

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