Monday June 17, 2024

The PPP’s future

By Azam Khalil
December 11, 2015

When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was murdered by Ziaul Haq, in collusion with the likes of Anwar ul Haq and Maulvi Mushtaq, many – including Jamaat-e-Islami trained columnists – predicted the demise of the PPP.

It would not be fair if only its political adversaries or military dictatorships are held responsible for the decline of the party; its own poor political policies are also to blame.

The decline began when Yaseen Khan Wattoo was appointed as the secretary general of the PPP and Bhutto from his death cell had to ask D M Awan and Yahya Bakhtiyar where his party was. After the judgement of the Lahore High court five judges of the superior judiciary offered to resign against the biased judgement of Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain.

To derive political mileage out of this offer Malik Meraj Khalid was asked to work out a strategy that would benefit not only the PPP but also mobilise public support in its favour. Meraj Khalid promptly went and informed the governor of Punjab about the pending resignations, thus subverting a very noble gesture of the superior judiciary. This betrayal adversely affected the party.

Another vital issue that has haunted the PPP has been its treatment of party cadres in the province of Punjab that command majority seats in the National Assembly when appointments like those of Qasim Zia or Manzoor Wattoo were made to steer the party.

This not only disillusioned a vast majority of the party cadres but also had led to a backlash in other provinces except Sindh where the Bhutto cadres continue to be loyal to the charisma of late Z A Bhutto.

Another episode that needs to be mentioned is that when Benazir Bhutto as prime minister wanted to file a reference against Mian Nawaz Sharif who was then chief minister of Punjab, she had some irrefutable evidence about certain misdeeds committed by him.

The files were handed over to the then minister for parliamentary affairs Tariq Raheem who also promptly betrayed Benazir Bhutto and came down to Lahore and handed over the files to Nawaz Sharif, creating serious problems for one of the top bureaucrats at that time who had provided the evidence to Benazir Bhutto.

These two examples go a long way in establishing the fact that whenever the party was provided the opportunity to resurrect its fortunes in the province of Punjab there was some sort of betrayal that subverted or damaged the chance for the PPP to rise.

Once again the last general elections and the local bodies elections confirmed the trend that has plagued the party. If immediate reforms within the party are not carried out the time may indeed come when the predictions of doom for this once most popular political party may come true.

The policy of reconciliation does not sit well with the workers of PPP. A party that believes in democracy has failed to hold elections for various slots of the political party and has instead chosen nominated people who have little or no following amongst the masses.

There are now rumours that Rehman Malik may be assigned the job to reorganise the party in Punjab. Rehman Malik will only succeed in hammering the final nail in the coffin of the PPP in Punjab.

Keeping in view this and other available evidence it becomes imperative for the party to allow its next generation full freedom and powers not only to reorganise the party but also to create a new and clean image.

Their image has been tarnished in the last decade or so due to a vicious propaganda campaign unleashed by JI-trained people in the media, and partly because of their own follies.

If one tries to evaluate who is the most suitable and has that political passion that is required to pull the PPP out from its present-day mess, one would have to look at the three children of late Benazir Bhutto.

For many people Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the natural choice in this male-dominated society but recent events have shown that he has to learn a lot before he can carry the burden of the party on his shoulders. Therefore, more time should be provided to him to learn before he can finally jump in the unknown and troubled waters of politics.

Out of his two sisters one would like to bet on Asifa, the younger one who is very articulate and seems to understand political issues very quickly. This ability should make her the natural choice to follow her mother and try to reinvent the PPP that was established by her grandfather with missionary zeal.

It was up to the party elders to try to create a team of thinking individuals who could sit at the drawing board and chart out a plan that could help them reorganise the party on a war footing.

This can only happen if the party reaches out with full vigour and passion to the downtrodden people of this country and lays down a plan that would result in the transformation of the entire system, which at present is tilted towards the rich. To achieve this, the first and foremost task before the party elders would be to seek apology from the entire nation.

This nation was neglected by them while they were in power and only vested interests were looked after, which has now resulted in the alienation of a majority of its jiyalas who are not only indifferent but some have even joined other political outfits.

One hopes that in the coming weeks and months the PPP will be able to come out of the present mould of helplessness and try to show some activity to work as a mainstream party dedicated to the welfare and uplift of the have-nots who have suffered for so long.

In case the party continues with its ad-hoc measures and patchy work it will not be difficult to predict accurately that the popularity of the PPP, which has become confined to the province of Sindh will also dwindle there.