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Editorial: PPP Preps for Elections

Bilawal and Asif Zardari’s remarks indicate PPP rank-and-file is being readied for political scenario that can potentially unfold with Imran Khan’s removal

by Editorial

File photo courtesy PPP Media Cell

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has sought to delink from the ruling coalition that ousted Imran Khan as prime minister, declaring that while his party is “part of the government,” it is not a member of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance and would only consider any future tie-up with them when elections are held. His statement came within days of his son, PPP chairman and foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warning that his party could quit the government if it didn’t shell out funds for the rehabilitation of flood-victims in Sindh.

Comprising over a dozen parties, it is no surprise that the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has internal rifts. The PPP leaders’ remarks, however, have laid bare the discontent that has been brewing from the very moment that the incumbent government was formed after Khan’s ouster in a vote of no-confidence. Last June, Bilawal had voiced similar reservations, prompting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to meet him and paper over the differences. The impression conveyed to the public at the time—as validated by Bilawal declaring that all PPP MNAs were at the premier’s disposal—was that all issues had been resolved. The latest statements suggest ground is being paved for the PPP rank-and-file of the political scenario that could potentially unfold once the “obstacle” of Khan has been removed.

Following the PTI’s resignations, the PPP became the second largest party in the National Assembly and Senate, while also ruling in Sindh where it is challenged by the MQM and PTI. The recent unification of various factions of the MQM, coupled with the PTI’s rising influence in urban centers—particularly Karachi—pose a challenge to the PPP’s supremacy in Sindh, troubling Zardari, who wants to retain the provincial stronghold while reviving his party’s fortunes in the rest of the country. With Khan facing multiple cases that could lead to his disqualification, or even imprisonment, the PPP hopes to use the potential dent to his charisma to cement its powerbase and also expand it to Punjab, KP and Balochistan.

Local government elections in Sindh earlier this year, which saw minimal wins for the PTI, offered a ray of hope to the PPP. Zardari and Bilawal are now clearly hoping to use that success to consolidate their party’s position in the province with “help” from a prime minister increasingly shaky at the center thanks to a disastrous economy and the ongoing challenges of a never-ending confrontation with Khan’s PTI.

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