LAHORE - The PPP’s manifesto for the next election will be based on the party’s original philosophy - socialist democracy or democratic socialism – which makes it obligatory for the state to provide jobs, health and education facilities to people, says the party’s central Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira.

In an interview to The Nation yesterday, he said the general election might be held even during the current year because of the likely outcome of the cases being heard by various courts these days. The PPP, he said, expects a better response from the people of Punjab this time because of the role the party played for the rights of the people and to evolve consensus on projects of national importance. He calls for a level playing field for all parties.

The following is the abridged version of questions and answers.

Q: You talk of reviving the PPP in Punjab. But before going for the exercise have you ever analysed why the PPP disappeared from the country’s biggest province?

A: It would not be right to say that it has disappeared. Losing an election doesn’t mean the party has evaporated. It has weakened. We analysed all internal and external factors that damaged the party. We faced a very difficult situation at the time of 2013 general election. The Election Commission of Pakistan and then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry worked against the PPP. The media was also biased against the PPP and it played an important role in molding public opinion against the PPP. The PML-N’s nexus with various institutions also took its toll.

The media is not fair to the PPP even today. It is focusing on problems in a single province (Sindh, where the PPP is in power).

The party is aware of its structural flaws and differences on policy matters.

The PPP is being reorganised at present. Offices will be given to capable people with the consent of party workers. Secondly, the party manifesto is being reviewed to bring it in harmony with the party’s original policy. Party workers and supporters’ input in this respect is being given importance.

Q: What do you mean by ‘original philosophy’ of the party?

A: We believe that socialist democracies are not working the way they should be working. The capitalist system has also failed to deliver. As a result, the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer. We want a democratic socialism or socialist democracy. We can’t think of handing over the country to unkind capitalism. It should be the state’s responsibility to provide jobs, health and education facilities to the people. The new PPP manifesto would be reflective of these ideals.

Election results are reflective of a party’s standing among the people. We are trying to take the people along. But the role of the media also matters a lot. Then the kind of terrorist threat that faces the PPP leaders is not faced by any other party.

Q: What targets have you set for the next elections the achievement of which will mean success for the PPP? Any number of seats that you think the party should bag?

A: The PPP will want to win all seats, although it may not bag even a single one. The number of votes cast to the PPP will also be a consideration. But the role of the state institutions and media towards the PPP matters a lot. The PPP wants a level playing field for all parties.

Q: When, in PPP’s assessment, the general election can be held?

A: The PML-N government may have to hold the election any time – even during the current year - because of the likely outcome of the cases being heard by various courts.

Q: Who will be the allies and rivals of the PPP?

A: The PML-N and all parties in opposition are rivals for the PPP. But alliances are formed at the time of election. For the time being, nothing can be said what kind of alliances will be made at that time.

Q: What has the PPP done for the people after the 2013 election that it can expect a better response this time?

A: The PPP is an opposition party and its role should be gauged on that touchstone. The PPP stood by the government in the ongoing war on terror; it raised voice for the rights of the have-nots; played a role in evolving consensus on the CPEC; and worked for an independent foreign policy.

Q: Any important figures who are likely to join or rejoin the PPP before the election?

A: Individuals strengthen the party, but we are trying to strengthen the party to an extent that the electables feel attracted to join it. At present the reorganisation is going on and will be completed by the end of next month.