Home Editorial Editorial: Wisdom from Asif Ali Zardari

Editorial: Wisdom from Asif Ali Zardari

The PPP has retained its position as a power-broker, largely due to the political acumen of its co-chairman

by Editorial

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, typical of wisdom often misinterpreted by his rivals, has called for an all-in political reconciliation process with the inclusion of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). While the logic is sound, it is undeniable that this will trigger conspiracies, with pundits questioning Zardari’s true aim, as his son—PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari—has projected a more adversarial position. Unfortunately, the uncertainty resulting from a split mandate after the Feb. 8 general elections all-but ensures such conspiracy theories taking root, highlighting the failure of the polls in providing any semblance of much-needed stability.

With the third largest grouping in the National Assembly after the elections, Zardari has wisely adopted a position that sees his PPP losing nothing despite not winning a commanding majority. Obviously, this has raised the potential of Zardari assuming the presidency for a second time, which Bhutto-Zardari has also voice support of. However, Bhutto-Zardari’s claims that the PPP would not seek any ministries in the incoming coalition government might require a rethink, as the party is unlikely to escape any fallout unscathed with polarization continuing to peak, bolstered in large part by the PTI.

The U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in 2022, recalled that the PPP had commenced a long march from Karachi to Islamabad “with the stated aim to oust the central government run by” the PTI while in opposition. “Among Pakistani opposition parties, the PPP retains a critical position owing to its tenure in power in Sindh, Pakistan’s second largest province. The PPP has been a formidable actor in Pakistani politics in the past, enjoying multiple stints in power following its inception in 1967. And although the PPP today operates outside the corridors of power at the national level, the party remains an important oppositional force through its role in the national parliament and through grassroots mobilization,” it added. Bhutto-Zardari, to his credit, appears to be taking forward the blunt assessments of his grandfather, PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, the path to power in Pakistan often lies through moderation, which Zardari wisely advises, allowing the PPP to retain its position as a power-broker even as its rival parties go for more extreme positions.

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