ISLAMABAD: The general elections are just a month away and the country’s largest political party — the PPP — still seems undecided about its campaign strategy.
The dilemma being faced by the party that remained active in all the previous general elections was evident from the replies given by its leaders at a news conference at Zardari House here on Wednesday.
Faryal Talpur, who is believed to be the de facto head of the party, and Manzoor Wattoo, the president of the PPP’s Punjab chapter, gave ambiguous replies when they were asked who would lead the party’s campaign and when the party would announce its schedule for public meetings.
“He will definitely speak,” said Ms Talpur when asked if young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would lead the PPP’s election campaign. Both the party’s former prime ministers, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, had already started addressing the public meetings, she said, but at the same time added, “in their constituencies”.
“We will soon start public meetings and rallies at a massive level and the party has already launched its election campaign at the local level,” she said when asked why the PPP had so far not arranged any big show.
Ms Talpur took no time in “disagreeing” with a journalist who said the PPP had now been reduced to a “drawing room party” and the leadership was afraid of going to the masses due to “security fears”. “I totally disagree with you. The PPP has never done drawing room politics and it has always done politics for the masses,” she said when a questioner asked wasn’t today’s PPP different from the PPP that was once headed by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
When asked about the decision of the Sheerazis of Thatta to part ways with the PPP, Ms Talpur said the party could not force anyone to stay in its fold. “This is democracy.
Every individual or group has the right to choose his own path in politics,” she said.
Similarly, she said, the PPP differed from the thinking of nationalist parties. “We believe in federation and a united Pakistan. The nationalists have their own thinking,” she added.
Responding to a question, Mr Wattoo claimed a 95 per cent success in the talks with the PML-Q on the issue of seat adjustment. He said the PPP would announce its candidates for Punjab on Thursday.
Earlier, the reporters and cameramen protested over the humiliating treatment meted out to them by the police and security personnel deputed outside the Zardari House.
Interestingly, the news conference had been arranged on a short notice of only two hours to announce that the caretaker of the Hazrat Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar shrine Pir Sahab Deewan Ahmed Masood had announced his support for the PPP. Speaking on the occasion, Deewan Masood said he had decided to revive now defunct Jamiat Mashaikh Pakistan that had been formed by his grandfather some 30 years ago.