LAHORE  - Though the tone was harsh but the intended actions are soft in spirit. After a lot of rhetoric and criticism on the sitting government, the eventual outcome was about visiting the four provinces to mobilize public opinion against the government, an announcement which could at best be described as the start of preparations for the next elections due in 2018.

There has been a lot of media hype around December 27 rally with senior PPP leaders saying that PPP was going to make some big announcement on the day. Though Bilawal Bhutto did not give any clear roadmap for anti- government agitation, an unexpected announcement about Asif Ali Zardari becoming part of the Parliament was however made.

Bilawal in his speech used the word “political long march” which is nothing but addressing political rallies across the country. In politics, a political party takes its supporters to roads and leads a long march to the capital to dismantle the government. But PPP’s intended long march would not be like that. Despite the harsh language Bilawal used against his political opponents, the underline message was that he would adopt a democratic course for acceptance of his four demands. He made it clear that his party will not revert to politics of the 1990s.

After Tuesday’s line of action given by the PPP, there is nothing to worry about for the government at least for the remaining part of its term. PML-N leaders who criticised Bilawal after his speech were not perturbed over his announcement of launching a political long march. They were rather annoyed over his tone and the political rhetoric.

The only surprise in Zardari’s speech was his planned entry in the National Assembly through bye-election. A similar announcement about Bilawal had already been made by Asif Zardari himself. He would become part of the Parliament again after 23 years. He served as federal minister for environment during last tenure of Benazir Bhutto in power. Also, he would be the second former president (elected) of Pakistan to have become an MNA. Before him, Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari got himself elected as MNA after serving as country’s president.

The question here is why the father and the son want to sit in the present Parliament when it is about to complete its term in one-and-half year.

“In case of Bilawal it is quite understandable. It is about his political launch because National Assembly is the platform from where he can get his political education. But Zardari’s decision to join the Parliament is mind-boggling,” noted political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi who also believed that his presence in the House would not be of any good for the party.

Senior analyst Imtiaz Alam said that Asif Zardari wanted to assume the role of opposition leader and eventually to become a candidate for the next prime minister after the coming elections. Political and defence analyst Shahzad Ch was of the view that Zardari was an expert in striking deals with political parties and would utilize this talent to unite the opposition parties on one platform. PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan, however, said that it was premature to say that Asif Zardari would become Leader of the Opposition. A decision to this effect will be taken after he joins the Parliament, he added.  

Also, the PPP’s new political strategy has failed to impress the rival PTI which believes in aggressive protest outside the parliament. “The PPP leadership has disappointed us by its reluctance to launch a full-fledged agitation against the government,” senior PTI leader Imran Ismael said in his comment.