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Lahore

January 3, 2015

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2014: a year of struggle for PPP


LAHORE
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) once again underwent a challenging time in 2014 and its confinement to only one province remained a matter of serious concern for the diehard jialas throughout the year.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP Chairman, charged the party jialas for a brief period, but he remained unable to take it out of drawing rooms or palaces throughout the year and the party co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, retained his control over the party and continued his reconciliatory politics with MQM in Sindh and PML-N in Punjab. The PPP’s role as a friendly opposition party in the parliament also brought the party high command under criticism from its own stalwarts.
Whether it was the issue related with governance in Sindh where PPP is enjoying power or the party organisational matters in Punjab and other provinces, the party commanders throughout the year remained under criticism from within and outside the party circles throughout the year. Nevertheless, the PPP, despite being a major component of Opposition, stood by the Nawaz government at a critical juncture when, according to parliamentary forces, a ‘plot’ against democracy was under way in the form of Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Dharnas in the Capital.
The PPP, which faced a whitewashed situation in last general elections and remained confined to only Sindh once again, remained unable to make a comeback as a party which claims to have its root in the entire country. The flaws at the PPP’s organisational level were well exposed in the only local body polls held in Balochistan where only two councillors supported by the party could win. In Punjab, where local body polls were announced in the beginning of 2014, but later postponed, the PPP faced an acute shortage of candidates because most of the candidates were not willing to contest elections on the election symbol of arrow.
In Lahore, a birthplace of the PPP and its once strong bastion, sad story continued for the

party throughout the year as it was unable to find candidates at union council levels. Another threatening aspect related with PPP had been the shifting of its voters towards PTI and throughout the year, the party leadership remained unable to bring back this vote bank. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well the PPP remained under organisational crisis and rifts among senior leaders continued to come to surface in the year 2014. The party couldn’t win a single by-election seat held in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The PPP co-chairman, at a time when the PML-N government was under crisis due to the PTI’s long march, paid visit to Lahore and held meeting with the Prime Minister, besides visiting Mansoora to hold meeting with JI Ameer Siraj-ul-Haq. For the time being, this exercise of the PPP Co-chairman also made headlines and he was also praised for promoting reconciliation in politics. Nevertheless hard days for his own party continued and party high command remained unsuccessful in restoring its strength in three provinces of the country where the PPP remained in power between 2008 and 2013.
The reports pertaining to differences between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari also came to surface after October 18 rally at Karachi in which Bilawal came hard on MQM and publicly ‘threatened’ Muttahida Chief Altaf Hussein to tame his hawks. After that particular rally, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP Chairman, said to have developed differences with his father, which according to sources was due to Zardari’s soft stance towards MQM quite contrary to a general feeling of party diehard activists from Sindh.
Sources stated that Asif Ali Zardari did not want to sever ties with MQM. Although situation at the moment doesn’t seem in the PPP’s favour, in case the party manages to get enough number of seats in Sindh and even after having a little chunk from Punjab and other provinces, it could come in a bargaining position and sources stated that one could not rule out Zardari, pitching himself, not his son, a candidate for the slot of PM. In case of a coalition government in future, the PPP will have to rely on its old allies like MQM, ANP, JUI-F and even JI which have normally opted to go for power.
The constitutional bar on the former president will also end in September this year and there was no reason that he could keep the field open for anyone else in the party for a possible PPP nominee for the slot of PM in case party succeeds in getting enough number of seats. The PPP under Bilawal’s command may have to adopt an aggressive tone against its arch rivals which, sources stated that did not suit to the party co-chairman, who is not willing to annoy his old allies.
Although the PPP government in Sindh didn’t face any challenging situation like the one faced by the PML-N government in centre, its performance in Sindh remained under vehement criticism from different fronts due to poor governance.
The deaths of hundreds of children in Tharparkar due to drought, hunger and other reasons brought the PPP leadership under criticism from the media the opposition parties. Although, responding to the criticism, the PPP leadership claimed that it was more a ‘famine of facts’ than actual famine in Thar, yet, the death toll had been on a rise for months.
Target killings of political workers in Karachi and law and order invoked severe criticism on the PPP government in Sindh. SP CID Chaudhry Mohammed Aslam was also one of the victims of terrorism in year 2014 as he lost his life in a bomb attack in the beginning of the year.
An operation against criminals and terrorists was also launched in Karachi which continued till date and the government claimed that the situation was comparatively quite better than past.
Rehman Malik, the former interior minister, while talking to The News said time had proved that all the decisions taken by PPP government in its tenure were right and its policies were in the right direction. He said it was the PPP which declared Taliban as ‘Zaliman’ and all the democratic forces endorsed it in later years. He said the PPP promoted the politics of reconciliation and it was due to reconciliation that democratic forces got united to save democracy.
Senator Saeed Ghani, in charge PPP Media Cell in Sindh, while talking to The News said: “There had been criticism on us for different issues, but we must not ignore facts”.
He said the PPP had taken a number of steps for development in Thar and deaths were not entirely due to famine.
Regarding target killings in Sindh, he said the situation, if not ideal, was not bad compared to past. He said police busted number of criminal gangs and eliminated hundred of terrorists.

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