— File Photo
— File Photo

After Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court from holding a seat in parliament , the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had an opportunity to bring an appeasing face to the front. But they brought Raja Pervez Ashraf instead who was even more unpopular as compared to Gilani.

When asked to explain this move, at a recent brain storming session with journalists, PPP leaders said he was an accidental prime minister.

The party’s main candidate was Makhdoom Shahabuddin, who wasnominated by President Asif Ali Zardari.

As soon as the ANF ordered the arrest Makhdoom Shahabuddin in the ephedrine quota case, just hours before the expiry of the deadline to file nomination papers for the prime ministerial post, the party searched for an alternative and picked Qamar Zaman Kaira.

This alarmed the PPP-allied Chaudhries of Gujrat who did not want a prime minister from their backyard.

So PPP started looking for a third candidate. It was already very close to the deadline.

The party had less than half an hour to find a new candidate and two proposals with it.

So President Zardari, who was sleeping when warrants were issued against Makhdoom and woke up an hour before the deadline, settled on a covering candidate, Raja Pervez Ashraf.

When PPP stalwarts finished this story, a journalist asked: “If this is how you pick the country’s prime minister, are you surprised why you lost last week’s elections?”

The question led to some soul searching and a pro-PPP journalist said the “Phupi factor” had also paralysed the party, claiming that the president’s sister Faryal Talpur had too much influence in the party.

PPP sources believe that sister-brother duo disliked traditional PPP jiyalas, particularly those who were close to Benazir Bhutto, and those with some influence, like the Makhdooms of Hala, were borne only for political reasons.

Moreover the second rank leaders, who are the backbone of a political party, were ridiculed and some were also pushed out of the party, the source added.

Some insiders alleged that at one party meeting, Mrs Talpur threw her shoes at a jiyala.

Another party source said that the president also liked insulting the ‘oldies’.

During a television interview, the president asked one of his senior assistants to muzzle the sacrificial goats kept nearby or threatened to tie him with the goats.

There’s no way to substantiate these claims.

Most probably they are incorrect but they do show a growing disenchantment in the PPP with its top leadership.

The debate eventually led to the question that every PPP supporter asks, what to do now?

Every one agreed that the party needs to reorganise itself in the next five years if it wants to win the next election. And the first step they suggested by the supporters was giving Bilawal Bhutto a greater say in party affairs.

They believe that Bilawal wants to bring disgruntled party workers back to the party. He also wants to democratise the party and share the decision making process with senior party leaders, according to the party loyalists.

Party insiders say that Bilawal had openly criticised the distribution of party tickets for the May 11 elections, pointing out that deserving candidates were ignored to please those close to his father and other senior leaders.

The insiders claim that Bilawal seemed unhappy with the decision to give tickets for two National Assembly seats and one provincial assembly seat from Punjab to former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s sons.

All of whom were defeated in the polls.

Another PPP candidate in Islamabad, Faisal Sakhi Butt, got the ticket allegedly because of his links with President Zardari despite a warning from the local PPP workers that he was extremely unpopular. He too lost.

PPP supporters argue that Bilawal would do things differently, as he grew up in the West and his decisions will be based on merit.

What PPP jiyalas are not sure about is if Bilawal has the resolve and the strength of his mother and grandfather who fought against despots and brought them down?

And even more important than that: Is Bilawal willing to go through the process?

Some already say that he is not and that Mr Zardari may have to bring one of his daughters into politics.

This leads to another question: does the Bhutto family still have the charisma to bring people back to PPP? Some may argue that the days of the “khandani (dynastic)” politics are over.

May be so but the Bhutto family is still relevant, and not just in Sindh.

And the party they lead may have been weakened during the last five years but it remains a major political force and can always bounce back if it gets the leaders it deserves.

A former federal minister of the PPP, however, warned that the issue which brought his party down could also prevent it from returning to power i.e. the energy crisis.

He was of the view that while the energy crisis may continue for the next 10 to 15 years, the Sharif brothers could reduce the load-shedding to up to three hours a day, if they try hard.

And if they succeed in doing so, it will be difficult to dislodge them.

Published May 21, 2013 01:15pm

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Comments (17) (Closed)


Salim Akbani
May 21, 2013 08:19pm

As long as they these fuedals who have run this party do not disappear, the party will.

zia khan
May 22, 2013 12:59am

There is no Bhutto left in the PPP. Zardari being champion of corruption is the main reason of humiliating defeat. There is strong disliking for Zardari and phupis. A coalition with MQM in Sind will create a vacuum which will be filled in by other parties. PTI will drastically dilute MQM in Karachi. PPP on the other hand will face a very serious challenge from PMLN and other parties in the interior Sind. While Zardari and Phupis are in control, chances of PPP becoming Zardari League are very high.

Shahzad Akhund
May 21, 2013 07:45pm
I agree with the author that there must be several factors involved in the dismal performance of PPP in the recent elections. However, I fail to understand the reason of mentioning unsubstantiated stories about such performance.
Sultan Alvi, Toronto, Canada
May 22, 2013 03:41am
Zardari and PPP's days are numbered, and they are headed for extinction. I don't see any leader in the party who has energy, resolve, or the Karisma to bring this left over PPP party back into power.
Umar
May 21, 2013 11:35pm
The electoral always has a short memory.
asim
May 22, 2013 03:33am
Bilawal's decision will be based on merit. Give me a break! has he become chairman on merit ?
Rizwan Wasi
May 22, 2013 12:48am
Pakistan Peoples Party died ideologically when they moved to the right in their first term under Mr. Bhutto. The chief aritects of the party like Mr. J.A. Rahim, Dr. Mubashir Raza and Mr. Miraj Mohammed Khan went in to oblivion and centrists took control of the party. It led to legislations like declaring Ahmadis “Non-Muslim” that negated the principle of Secularism. Thereafter it ran and survived on the names of Shaeed Bhuttos. But it seems like the Bhutto factor is diminishing and new generation is not connecting to it. It was a just miracle to form PPP in Pakistan but the core message was lost in the fragile framework Pakistan’s politics. In order to revive the party, PPP leaders have to go back to what it initially stood for.
Tariq
May 21, 2013 05:42pm
I am getting sick and tired of the constant chants of corruption from the anti PPP elements. If you have concrete evidence of corruption, take it to the courts and bring the proofs into the light of day. No party has ever had to face a more hostile Judiciary than the PPP during the last five years, and still not one iota of proof of so called corruption has been presented in a court of law. Even Gilani was not convicted of any "corruption". He was disqualified on the basis of a highly questionable contempt of court conviction. Any impartial observer without an axe to grind against the PPP will have to admit that the Court over-reached in that instance. The more you shout "corruption" without any substance behind it, the less people take you seriously.
Maniza
May 21, 2013 09:12pm
Leave the children alone! Enough is enough! PPP is a great party and must be reformed. And the leadership should be elected by party workers on the basis of leadership qualities not on the basis of marital or blood relationship to Benazir Bhutto. She was a great leader. She was murdered. Now the party should think in terms of new leadership. The new leaders will always look to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as their compass.
Iqbal
May 21, 2013 06:43pm
"Accidental prime minister?"... what a joke with this country !
Atif Amin
May 21, 2013 05:17pm
So this is how PPP selected the PM of the 8th most powerful country on earth.........Feeling shame. Deserve to lose.
Mohammad
May 21, 2013 03:30pm
Sorry to say but overall reputation of PPP is very bad. I don't belong to any party but i have seen peoples/politicians in PPP and didn't find any one a reasonable leader. I personally don't like "Imported leaders" like son of Benazir. A person who is living outside the country, can't speak our National language, how come he guard the interest of Pakistan. Too much doubts about his petriotisam to Pakistan
Pro Bono Publico
May 21, 2013 03:57pm
This poorly done report at least shows one thing that the people have realized PPP is not what it claims to be, and now PPP needs to get back into the picture by calling Bilawal Zardari by his mother's surname; his father's name has zero minus value.
Gul Khan
May 21, 2013 02:27pm
not only the most corrupt ever(other were not angels either)but the main institutes were destroyed by appointing incompetent persons as their heads G.Khan
Rehan Hafiz
May 21, 2013 01:43pm
dismal performance by a corrupt Government. Just accept that and go home.
NASAH (USA)
May 22, 2013 05:25am
An accidental PM serving an accidental President -- "kabootar ba kabooter baaz ba baaz" -- what else is new?
Usman
May 22, 2013 12:02pm
Who says PPP is dead? Despite everything, there are jiyalas like Mr. Tariq, willing to look beyond the obvious and stand steadfast in their support of the party. If you were to go by the judicial system and that nothing has been proven in courts against the PPP leadership, the same would pretty much stand true for the top tier of pretty much all political parties i.e. ANP, PMLN, etc and to a fairly large degree even Musharaf and his cronies. But anyway, to each owl its own olive tree :)