ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan People’s Party is mulling to launch a ‘winter offensive’ on rival Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf to bolster the party’s popularity in Punjab, political sources said yesterday.

In the first half of the PML-N’s five-year tenure, the PPP has mostly remained silent and was criticised as ‘friendly opposition.’ The PTI took advantage of the situation and emerged as the arch-rival of the PML-N.

In the 2013 polls, the PPP fared badly in Punjab and lately it seems to have lost its ground in the populous province.

PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s recent announcement to end the politics of reconciliation with the PML-N was received well by the hard-line workers of the party amid the struggle to emerge as a force in Punjab.

This month’s by-polls in Lahore and Okara proved beyond doubt that much is needed to be done to bring the PPP back on its feet.

Analysts believe the upcoming Local Governments’ polls in Punjab could be a bout between the PML-N and the PTI if the PPP did not make a miraculous comeback.

PPP insiders said Asif Ali Zardari was under pressure from party hawks to go at the rivals to make the upcoming LG elections a three-way contest.

The pro-offensive PPP leaders hope such action will bolster the party’s popularity helping its revival.

A senior PPP leader told The Nation that young PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was against the political silence and was convinced it would damage the party further.

“Bilawal wants to take on the government and the PTI to prove the PPP has its own policies and stand on national issues. He wants to revive the original vocal PPP,” he maintained. The PPP leader said that the possible ‘winter offensive’ could be launched on November 30 – the foundation day of the party. There were reports that the PPP may launch its manifesto on the same day but party leaders said it might not happen.

Some PPP leaders said Bilawal also wanted to merge the PPP Parliamentarians into the PPP on November 30 but legal complications may not allow him to go ahead.

The PPPP was formed in 2002 by the late Benazir Bhutto as then military ruler Pervez Musharraf banned her from contesting the polls and also disqualified the parties led by a convict to participate in the elections.

The PPPP was created from within the PPP to take part in the elections. Makhdoom Amin Fahim was made its president and officially he still keeps that job.

Voices have been raised to merge the PPPP into its parent party to contest the future polls. Legal experts argue the merger could be tricky as all the PPP legislators have been elected on a PPPP ticket.

PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman said that the government had to decide the future relations. “The ball is always in the government’s court,” she told The Nation.

Senator Rehman recalled when the PPP was in power, Zardari made sure that “national outcomes were privileged over partisan politics.”

PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Baber said Zardari was still for reconciliatory politics. “His personal gut responses are reconciliatory and not hostile,” he told The Nation. The legislator said the relationship between the PPP and the PML-N was guided by the charter of democracy.