KARACHI -  All eyes are set on Pakistan People’s Party’s December 27 public gathering in Garhi Khuda Bux.

Opposition parties and PPP activists are hoping for grand announcements by the party leadership, especially Asif Ali Zardari who had promised that he would give people a good news on ninth death anniversary of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto at Garhi Khuda Bux.

According to political observers, although the party revamp by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and he being in charge of party affairs has raised stakes of the party in the political arena, the party still needs to take some steps to improve its stature at the national level. The party had lost its popularity after ruling the country from 2008 to 2013.

Eyeing to take charge of the opposition from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and prove it the main opposition to the PML-N government, the PPP had announced that it would start a protest campaign after December 27.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had made four demands to the federal government and asked it to meet these demands by December 27. He had announced that his party would launch a movement against the government if demands are not met. These demands include formation of a parliamentary committee on national security, adopting PPP-drafted bill on investigation into Panama Papers’ reports, implementing the decision of the all-parties conference chaired by Asif Ali Zardari on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and appointing a full-time foreign minister.

Since the deadline for acceptance of the demands has expired with the federal government accepting none of them, the PPP is in a position where it needs to announce a protest drive against the PML-N that can raise its credentials in the political circles and brush aside the impression that it has struck a secret deal with the ruling party. 

Steps have been taken by the PPP in this regard and Asif Ali Zardari, who returned from Dubai a couple of days ago despite a crackdown on his close associates, has also started playing his role in political manoeuvrings. He contacted Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq to discuss political issues. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain called on Zardari at his Karachi residence, Bilawal House, to discuss a grand alliance against the government.

Shujaat later told the media that the two leaders had mulled a grand opposition alliance against the government. The party sources said that any movement against Nawaz Sharif would be in three phases and initially the party would give tough time to the government in the assembly and then come out for street protests. Although they ruled out sit-in politics at this stage, but said this option could be considered at the final stage of the protest movement.

The PPP is also mulling to launch Bilawal as a political entity. Hints were given by the party leadership that Bilawal would contest the election in two constituencies, one each from Sindh and Punjab, to enter the assembly politics.

The party leadership even said that Bilawal would be the prime minister of Pakistan in 2018. There are chances that Bilawal will be elected to the National Assembly and then given the role of opposition leader in the National Assembly.

Talking to The Nation on condition of anonymity, a PPP leader said that Bilawal had emerged as a hope for the party and he could be given a chance as face of the opposition against any movement against the PML-N. “Bilawal could be introduced to assembly politics and given the role of leader of the opposition in the assembly,” he said.

Rumours about a key personality, especially former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, joining the PPP are also making rounds. Bilawal had formally asked the former governor to join the party, during his meeting with him along with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The former governor sought time to consider this offer. However, the PPP leadership considers his joining the party as an important step to woo the voters of Karachi city where development projects are focus of the incumbent provincial government led by Syed Murad Ali Shah.

His joining the party would give the PPP another key Urdu speaking face after Dr Asim Hussain.

The wedding ceremony of former governor’s son also witnessed participation of top PPP leaders. This also showed Ebad’s closeness with the PPP. Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other party leaders attended the wedding ceremony of former governor’s son.

Other PPP leaders Rehman Malik, Owais Muzaffar and Sharjeel Memon were also present.

Talking to The Nation, Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Saeed Ghani said the party was ready to give a tough time to the PML-N led government. He said that a future course of action in this regard could be announced on December 27. He said that Bilawal Bhutto had entered politics and he had the capability to lead the party in any movement against the PML-N.

“The PPP is not like the PTI. It has the history of acting on the directions of its leadership and facing challenges of all sorts. It can accomplish the goals set by its leadership,” he said. He said the PPP would take all political parties on board on the movement against the PML-N.

Ghani said that PPP’s caravans had left for Garhi Khuda Bux under the party’s district leaders. They were rallying towards Garhi Khuda Bux to attend the death anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.