Barrister Murtaza Wahab represents a new generation of millennial politicians who have emerged on the political landscape in Pakistan in the recent years. Wahab, son of late Pakistan People's Party (PPP) stalwart Fouzia Wahab, first garnered national attention when he was elected senator unopposed in August last year.
Following PPP’s thumping victory in Sindh in the July 25 parliamentary election, Murtaza Wahab was drafted in Murad Ali Shah’s cabinet as his adviser on law and anti-corruption.
In an exclusive chat with The News International, Murtaza Wahab sheds lights on his political career, future of PPP’s politics as well as his take on the PTI government.
Grievances with the election result:
“We could distinguish some doubts because Form 45 weren’t handed out immediately to our polling agents, while they were forced out of the polling stations as well. Some ballot papers were also retrieved from a few constituencies. All of these things have created a doubt that perhaps the public’s actual mandate was made to look changed. But since PPP believes in democracy, for the sake of our system, naturally we accept the results. Whatever grievances we have, we will take them to the election tribunal so that the court can decide whether there were any discrepancies in the election or not.”
Nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as Presidential candidate instead of joining forces with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N):
"PML-N is the one not joining hands with us. The stature of Aitzaz Ahsan, and his services for the democratic law, is in front of everyone. The symbol of federation should be people who can talk in a bipartisan manner about all of Pakistan."
Analyzing PTI's unfolding tenure:
“I see Imran Khan's government taking U-turns. According to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, provincial governors were supposed to be apolitical, it talked of austerity yet you can see the PM himself living such a lavish lifestyle, travelling in helicopters. This shows that there is no substance in whatever it says, but that it just talks rhetorically.”
Political dynasty or akin political ideologies and beliefs as his mother?
“The progressive mindset that I belong to and the liberal policies and social issues that I talk about, in the past only PPP has worked on these aspects, and even today PPP is working on those issues. Of course my mother belonging to the party was one factor but it wasn’t the only one.”
PPP leaders and their tainted, corrupt history:
"Most of them are mere allegations. If there was any reality in the cases, you would be able to see them in the court orders. PPP believes in accountability but that accountability should not take the face of persecution, it should take a lawful façade wherever you think a leader had misused his power."
PPP turning from a national party to a provincial one:
"Back in the 1997 elections, PPP was completely wiped from all provinces except Sindh. After five years in 2002, we won seats in not just Sindh, but Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and in 2008 we even formed a coalition government in Balochistan and KP whilst in Punjab we had a considerable number of MNAs and MPAs elected. In 2013 the party stepped into the battlefield with new leadership and there were many hindrances that were put forth our way while campaigning in Punjab, and we are mindful of that, but you will see a progression and you will find the party’s presence in all four provinces."
Shifting the limelight from the contentious Zardari to the crowd-pulling Bilawal:
“There has been a perception about Zardari that he is power-hungry. But this is the same Zardari, who, when he became the President of Pakistan, surrendered the presidential powers; he is the same Zardari who was behind the 18th Amendment and the one who changed the name of NWFP to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. If you look at the ground reality, overlooking the perception that has been built, then this is entirely contradictory."
Addressing allegations from landlords in Sindh of PPP threatening to cut down water supply if they don’t cast their votes for the party:
"Perhaps those people were of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA). The elections weren’t conducted by PPP, they were conducted by an independent, autonomous body of Election Commission of Pakistan. If manipulation was the case, then we would’ve done that in Karachi as well. Second, the road network that exists in Omerkot is because of the PPP. Near Omerkot in the area of Sanghar, PPP was the one to bring a water pipeline into the region. So in all of Sindh, all the work done for the lining of canals was for the land of all, across the board. I think the votes we received was due to our performance. If we were doing pressure tactics in such a huge number then we wouldn’t have won so many seats."
Comparing Benazir Bhutto’s leadership with Zardari’s:
“I did not work under the BB era, so I cannot say anything but I’ve heard good things about her. Similarly for Zardari, from the things I’ve heard is that he has heart at the right place and he wants things done. Most of what was achieved under the Zardari tenure was part of BB’s vision.”