ISLAMABAD - Top Pakistan People’s Party leadership is in two minds on intra-party elections fearing a backlash, political sources said yesterday.

The PPP, like other major parties in the country, has not been known for intra-party democracy. Normally people are appointed on key party posts. The intermittently intra-party elections are also believed to be mere a formality.

For the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PPP is a party that has no representation in the parliament or the provincial assemblies. The PPP Parliamentarians has been contesting on behalf of the parent party since 2002.

There were rumours that the PPPP might be merged with the PPP this year but legal complications have hitherto delayed this process.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari plans to reorganise the party across the country – especially the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapters – to prepare for the next general polls – expected in 2018.

The reorganisation process is not as simple as it looks. Those who fear losing jobs are active to stay safe and remain powerful in the party.

A senior PPP leader told The Nation, the top leadership was delaying carrying out the reorganisation as it may further push the party into crisis.

“Let’s admit, we are not in an ideal situation. The party is trying to stand up after some bad showing in the general and local elections. Whatever the reasons (for poor performance), the party cannot afford people to leave the party in bulk,” he said.

The PPP leader added, “There are some in the party who believe intra-party elections could create a similar situation for the PPP that divided the PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf) in the recent months. Bilawal wants to go ahead but has been convinced to move slowly.” Another PPP lawmaker said the leadership had decided to carry phase-wise intra-party elections to keep the reactions in check.

“Phase-wise elections will help the decision makers in assessing the situation. This will also make the process easy to handle,” he added. He said the reorganisation will be for the Bilawal-led PPP and the office bearers will oversee the PPPP as well.

The PPPP is not known to have held intra-party elections. Since the day one, Makhdoom Amin Fahim was its President and Raja Pervez Ashraf its Secretary General. After Fahim’s death Asif Ali Zardari was elected the new PPPP President earlier this month.

PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Baber said the party had decided to hold intra-party elections in five districts of Khyber Pakhtukhwa as a test case.

“We will have intra-party elections in five districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and this experiment, with modification if any in the light of the experience, will be replicated throughout the province in the second stage,” he told The Nation.

Senator Baber said in the third stage intra-party elections would be held across the country to elect new office bearers.

The five districts chosen for the experimental elections include Mardan, Swabi, Malakand, Upper Dir and Lower Dir. Recently, the PPP had launched an online membership of workers to reorganise the party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and pave the way for intra-party elections.

The party’s provincial President Khanzada Khan promoted the online membership campaign for intra-party elections but there was no significant response. Analysts said most of the people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hardly used computers or smart-phones to participate in the online membership campaign. Last year, a survey by PILDAT said PPP was second behind the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) as the least democratic parties. In a systematic analysis evaluating internal democracy of political parties in Pakistan, the PTI emerged as the most democratic party. Even though the Jamaat-e-Islami was rated above the PTI for regular party election, change in top leadership and lack of dynastic leadership in the party, fewer membership and restrictions on candidates for campaigning allowed the PTI to be granted the first place.