KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is set to lead a protest campaign of opposition parties in Sindh against the federal government while marking a ‘black day’ on July 25 on the first anniversary of the 2018 general elections.
“The opposition parties under the directive of our key leadership have decided to stage a joint protest on July 25,” said Waqar Mehdi, the PPP Sindh general secretary.
“It has been decided that the PPP would lead the protest campaign in Sindh. On July 25 we would be organising a rally at Bagh-i-Jinnah that would be addressed by the leaders of the opposition parties. It would only be a beginning which would lead to different protest activities across Sindh.”
The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan-Noorani, Awami National Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party would be other opposition parties which would be seen with the PPP in the protest against the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf across Sindh.
“I believe that our protests would mobilise people in the province,” said Mr Mehdi. “The people are frustrated due to growing inflation, unemployment and uncertainty created by the PTI government. The PPP with other opposition parties would only guide people to use their democratic right and become part of the organised protest.”
When asked about any challenge for the PPP to lead the protest campaign in the province which it had been ruling for more than a decade and whether it could distract its focus from government affairs and affect its performance in the area of governance which already comes under question from rivals, the PPP leader sounded confident that his party had strong organisational structure to meet any political challenge without disturbing the government affairs.
Political observers and critics see the PPP-led campaign in Sindh mostly limited to symbolic protests which cannot turn into a mass movement. However, being the ruling party and having elected members in all districts of Sindh, the PPP could manage successful shows in the province.
“The movement for any cause requires people’s own initiative like we had seen in the past against the governments of Ayub Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” says Dr Jafar Ahmad, formerly of the Pakistan Study Centre at the University of Karachi. “In this case [PPP-led campaign in Sindh against the PTI government] I don’t think that this could turn into any movement. There would definitely be successful shows but mostly they would be symbolic. It would [not create] any major impact. If anything matters in this scenario, that is the protest campaign or movement in Punjab, which till now has been controlled by the government.”
Despite such assessment, Dr Ahmad does not rule out the PPP accruing benefit after mobilising such a large-scale political activity in Sindh.
“We often keep hearing such reports or speculation about possible governor rule in the province,” he said. “If any such thing is imposed from the Centre over Sindh, then such campaign or mobilised workers could play a vital role for the PPP’s cause. But for now, I don’t think that it’s going to affect the government or bring any relief to the PPP leadership facing corruption charges.”
Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019