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Youm-i-Tasees; gains and losses by PPP

Senator Rehman Malik

Today we are celebrating the 54th founding day of the Pakistan People’s Party as on November 30, 1967, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto founded PPP to work for the suppressed and working classes of the country and to create political awareness among the masses. The first convention was held on November 30, 1967, at the house of Dr Mubashir Hassan in Lahore which was attended by JA Rahim, Dr Mubashir Hassan, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Rafi Raza, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Hayat Sherpao, Sheikh Rashid and among others, the legendary Miraj Muhammad Khan.

PPP is the only political party of the country which exhibits its strength in all four provinces and the northern areas, and offers equal opportunity regardless of class, region, sect, religion and gender. PPP has always been absolutely committed to and will continue to struggle for a society based on social justice, rule of law and human dignity. PPP is the symbol of the federation and started its politics based on federalism. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was a leader with great political wisdom, as a born reformist with the ability to convince and lead the nation with his charismatic personality.

Almost all of the towering political figures of PPP were from Punjab, like the late JA Rahim, the founding secretary-general and the author of PPP’s ‘Basic Document,’ Dr Mubashir Hasan, Sheikh Rasheed (Bab-e-Socialism), Khursheed Hasan Mir, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Malik Meraj Khalid, Sh Rafiq Ahmad or those from the late 70s and 80s generation like Aitzaz Ahsan, the late Jehangir Badr, Dr Ghulam Hussain, Mukhtar Rana and many others. It is noticeable that ZA Bhutto gave more attention to Punjab as it is the largest province and had to be on his side.

Apart from the above mentioned close aides of ZAB, there were many other senior leaders of PPP and close aides of ZAB including Hafeez Pirzada, Sattar Gabol, Qasim Patel, Pyar Ali Allana, Jam Sadiq, Hafeez Cheema, Habib Ullah, and Mustafa Jatoi who switched their loyalties, siding with the military and left Bibi’s leading resistance movement against the hanging of her father. The Zia regime terrorised PPP workers and leaders and hence the mid-level leadership went into hiding.

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (Pinky in her father’s words) decided to struggle to save her father but she was locked and her voice was suppressed behind the high walls of Sukkur jail and sometimes house arrests. She fulfilled her promise with her father in jail and emerged as the PM twice. I have had the honour to serve as Director FIA in her first government and Additional DG and DG in her second tenure and then assisted her in exile in her struggle against the dictatorship. PPP is the only political party in Pakistan that has the grassroots support and probably the highest number of diehards. It is also the only major political party that has a successor for party leadership—Bilawal Bhutto. It has a young leadership that can change the future of the party as well as the state.

PPP has a strong bond with the rural populace of Sindh and a few pockets in urban centres. The legacy of Bhutto still stands strong today and PPP has been successfully cashing in on it. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is another project that won them accolades among the poor masses. The party has a presence in all provinces that if wisely used, by introducing more young leadership, can make them aggressively reach out to masses in other provinces, who would be willing to give more chances to PPP as opposed to any other party.

Some negative elements are pushing the party backward and the areas and provinces where the party once had a strong foothold are losing their strength. The major negative element that has been seen in the party is that they have unchecked propaganda against the party leadership. PPP did not perform actively in its five-year-long regime and took things for granted, which made them lose their hold in their strong support base.

The PPP still has a long way to go, especially in the absence of leaders like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or his daughter Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and other towering political figures in Punjab like the ones mentioned above. We do not have a leader with stature in Punjab. Historically, PPP was ousted from Punjab through a conspiracy hatched by the establishment through players like the late General Ghulam Jilani under the instruction of Gen Zia. Although PPP always won a good number of seats in both the National and Punjab assemblies from 1988 to 2008, it could not get the top slot after 1977. The PPP finally vanished from Punjab after the 2013 elections and even lost its stronghold in South Punjab. Thus, in the 2013 elections, the PPP thought that the PTI would damage the PML-N but on the contrary, it hurt the PPP and let us not ignore the support by alien factors and a business tycoon.

We need a dedicated, experienced and mature leadership to make proper political moves, though presently everyone is doing their best and let us hope we will navigate the party out of the crisis and manage to form our government in Punjab and the centre.

Interestingly all the three mainstream political parties i.e. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were formed in Punjab’s capital Lahore. The latter, being the oldest among the three, had not won a single seat from the heart of Punjab since long—we need to revisit to rebuild ourselves.

Let me conclude that President Asif Ali Zardari with his core group and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari may have to spend more time in Punjab at the district and tehsil levels with the workers to reenergise the party in Punjab, KP and Balochistan by getting the angry workers back. It is encouraging to see that mid-level and senior leadership cadres along with their workers are joining PPP to strengthen the party. We have to adopt the policies of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to create great confidence among our workers. We need to give a highly attractive agenda for the youth and we must have proper programmes for the unemployed including initiating some schemes of self-employment. We may start from the government of Sindh some doable self-employment projects to be replicated across the country on regaining power.

I would like to congratulate all workers on this day and hope we all will work for the party to make it the real party of ZA Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto party by strengthening Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Senator Rehman Malik

The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at:, Twitter