BILAWAL Bhutto-Zardari poses with his father Asif Ali Zardari, sister and aunt.—X / BakhtawarBZ
BILAWAL Bhutto-Zardari poses with his father Asif Ali Zardari, sister and aunt.—X / BakhtawarBZ

LAHORE: PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday formed different committees to reach out to ‘electables’ and other political players to formidably place the party in the 2024 elections.

“President PPPP @AAliZardari has formed a committee for dialogues with other political personalities with immediate effect,” party’s information secretary Faisal Karim Kundi said on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday.

Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Faisal Karim Kundi, Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha, and Sajid Toori will be the members of a committee in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

For Sindh, Saeed Ghani and Nasir Hussain Shah and for Balochistan Chengez Khan Jamali, Rozi Khan Kakar and Sabir Ali Baloch are the members of the committees.

Observer believes move aimed at showing who is the real boss in PPP

Mr Zardari is president of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) while his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is the PPP chairman.

For parliamentary polls, Mr Zardari is authorised to award tickets on the platform of the PPPP. It is worth mentioning that before the apparent disagreement between Mr Bilawal and Mr Zardari, there was hardly a party notification issued by the PPPP.

“…when it comes to the question of general elections and distribution of tickets among candidates, it is Mr Zardari who calls the shots. And this notification of formation [of] committees to hold political dialogue by Mr Zardari shows that he may have tried to show that he is the main boss in the party,” a political commentator believes.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Kaira said Mr Zardari would hold a meeting with the members of these committees on his return from Dubai to give them tasks in this regard.

“These committees have been formed primarily to reach out to electables as well as other parties as part of the party’s preparations for the upcoming polls,” he said.

When asked whether PPP was perturbed over the PML-N’s efforts to take many electables on board, especially in Balochistan and south Punjab, Mr Kaira said: “We are going to start our polls campaign in Balochistan later this month and several known personalities will join hands with us… similarly, the PPP is already strong in south Punjab.”

Some PPP leaders on Saturday found it difficult to defend Mr Zardari’s comments about Mr Bilawal. In a TV interview a couple of days ago, Mr Zardari appeared to undermine the political maturity of his son, calling him “emotional and inexperienced”.

‘Family first’

Amid rumours about a difference of opinion between Mr Bhutto-Zardari and his father, Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari shared a family photo on her X account on Saturday.

“Don’t believe the headlines — we’re only & always about family first,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s sister wrote in her post.

The fresh disagreement between the father-son duo is not entirely new for those who have followed younger Zardari’s politics.

He has openly challenged the old rules of business and compromises over legislative affairs.

Political pundits are seeing this duel against the backdrop of the PML-N becoming ‘a darling of the establishment’ and apparently cutting a deal to come to power.

PPP is also angry over a grand alliance forged by the Sharifs in Sindh in a bid to oust it from its stronghold and Mr Bhutto-Zardari sees the footprints of the powers that be on this plan.

When asked how Mr Bhutto-Zardari can become a nominee for the prime minister slot if his father considers him “immature”, PPP Punjab Secretary General Hasan Murtaza said: “One keeps learning from the cradle to the grave.”

“Bilawal in the CEC meeting in Lahore of late had asked his father to ensure a level playing field by speaking to the stakeholders or allow him to take on the forces that want selection and not election,” a PPP insider told Dawn.

On the other hand, PPP central leader Sardar Sanaullah Zehri has claimed that over three dozen electables joined the party in Balochistan.

Speaking at a press conference here on Saturday along with former federal minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, Rozi Khan Kakar, Sardar Omer Gorgaej, Ali Madad Jattak and others, Mr Zehri said that the PPP had already gained in local government elections. He said the PPP had become a single majority party by winning union, urban and district councils in Balochistan, as people knew which party played the role in increasing Balochistan share in the NFC Award and ensuring provincial autonomy through 18th Amendment.

He said it was on the request of PPP Balochistan that the party leadership decided to celebrate the 59th foundation day in Quetta. On the eve of this mega event, the party would show its strength by organising a big public meeting, he vowed. “Despite it being winter, we will arrange a big public meeting which will be a historic,” Mr Zehri said, adding that party chairman Bhutto-Zardari and senior leaders would address the public meeting on Nov 30.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023

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