Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had lost their ground and support after the tenure of President Asif Ali Zardari. This is especially true for the support the party had in Punjab. Their influence has diminished over time, and party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, has been trying to hold public meetings in Punjab to mobilise the party.

PPP has not just limited itself to gaining momentum in urban centres of the province, but has moved towards Southern Punjab. As of now, its political campaign in South Punjab seems to be picking up speed. Their strategy within the region is criticising the budget allotted for the Orange Line, instead of being allotted for initiating developmental projects in South Punjab. PPP has joined the bandwagon of the anti-government drive, especially in Punjab; where Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has a very strong hold. The Panama leaks verdict may not have led to the dismissal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it may yet have dented his image, allowing for other parties to expand their reach in Punjab. The PPP is making the best of it.

PPP will go to any extent to regain foothold in the region, if Mr Zardari’s statements are anything to go by. We witnessed that, when Bilawal promised residents of South Punjab a separate province if the government does not pay heed to their demands. The farmers of the region also feel betrayed by the government because of the imports that are coming in from India and causing stagnation of their local economy.

In a recent party meeting, Zardari claimed that their strategy for Southern Punjab would be decided after the verdict was out. The PML-N sees the decision as a victory, but the 540 page document was as best ambivalent about financial corruption of the Sharif family, and at worst, condemnatory.

PPP will form new alliances within the region and will give tough competition in the upcoming elections unless the PML-N has a rural uplift plan up its sleeve – and it might just. The party has a penchant for announcing new development plans right before elections. PPP on the other hand, has to rely on alliances, and good will. Bilawal Bhutto has already picked out party nominations for Dera Ismael Khan Division, there are talks of an alignment with PML-Q, and recently former Deputy Speaker of KPK Ikramullah Shahid announced his joining of PPP.

Although the political elite of PML-N claim that there is no threat posed by the tactics of PPP, the PPP will use aggressive politics to ensure that PML-N suffers a blow in the elections, cutting its strong majority down to size, even though PPP is unlikely to get its own majority in Punjab.