Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan People Party’s chairman has proceeded on an anti –government rally, from Lahore to Faisalabad. He made a speech to his party activists from the main gate of Bilawal house, telling them that the PML-N government has to go.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) January 18, 2017
He spoke again of the four demands PPP wanted from the government, including most importantly, a fulltime foreign minister for Pakistan. Couple of months ago he had made the same demands and said he would announce date for rally in end December and remove government if they were not met.
The Promised rally finally starts
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) December 6, 2016
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) December 6, 2016
Asif Zardari arrived on 23rd December but the much awaited rally announcement promised on 27th December, did not happen. Luckily enough for his party, and for himself, Bilawal had not at the time said he would resign as party chairperson, if that rally did not happen or the government did not go.
He will be accompanied by PPP’s central Punjab chapter chief, Qamar Zama Kaira and later by Senator Aitzaz Ahsan. Bilawal is expected to address public meetings in various cities along the way to Faislabad. The rally will have stop overs at Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Shahkot.
Bilawal’s case against Nawaz
Chairman PPP, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, condemned the PML-N government as being unsuccessful and saying that he cannot stay quiet any longer, “Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif say that the country is making progress. How can a country make progress when sources of income are so limited.”
There is no question he is right on what governments have to do, but on this occasion, it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
During this brief address to the workers, he talked about different issues faced by Pakistani public, which included energy shortages, agricultural support prices, businesses closing down and rising unemployment. He said the government was failing to address any of these issues. There is no question he is right on what governments have to do, but on this occasion, it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The reality of PPP Government’s tenureship
Unfortunately, Bilawal would not be aware, since he was still a student at Oxford, during the PPP’s government, between 2008-13, the country was in even worse dire straits on these very issues. At the time, just before the conclusion of the PPP government in May 2013, the Pakistan’s eminent newspaper, Dawn, published a piece titled, ‘the worst era ever’.
The years, 2008-13 saw Pakistan’s lowest GDP growth ever, hovering between 2-3 percent, the country suffered from massive inflation, which never came below the double digits, high interest rates which reached over 15 percent at one point during their term.
just before the conclusion of the PPP government in May 2013, a piece was published which was titled, ‘the worst era ever’.
In addition, the high subsidies they gave to agriculture through support prices, ruined the common man who could no longer afford to buy atta to make roti. Unfortunately, too many agriculturalists were sitting in the governing party at the time, for anyone to worry about this.
The rural economy flourished while urban Pakistan suffered. It is to be noted, that Pakistan, is South Asia’s most urbanized economy, with over 65 percent of population living in urban areas.
The Pakistani rupee lost over 47 percent value between 2008 till 2013, moving from around 64 rupees to 98 rupees by the end of their term, and energy shortages besieged the country, as people came onto the streets to protest against the long hours of loadshedding.
The current rally is an attempt to gather back into the fold, the lost PPP supporters, who felt that the PPP’s ‘reconciliation policy’ or ‘mukh mukha’ politics as Imran Khan likes to say, with the Nawaz government had led to the distancing of the PPP leadership from its supporters, and an apathy amongst party activists.
The PPP feels it can regain voters, with the weakening of Imran Khan and PTI’s political support, over the past two years, as his supporters feel he is achieving no wins on issue he picks up with the government. This rally is part of Bilawal’s plan to welcome the lost sheep back to it’s fold.
Unlike the PML-N, PPP jiyalas play an important role in the party and Punjab has been a major stranglehold for the PPP. Both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto have ran and won their electoral mandates through Punjab. Bilawal has earlier stated that he plans to shift to Lahore to Zardari house and run his political campaign from there.
To the extent, Bilawal is able to incite demagoguery amongst his workers, he got the jiyalas chanting anti-government slogans, ”Go Nawaz Go” and Gali Gali Mein Shor Hay, Nawaz Sharif Chor Hay”. Whether this rally like those of others before it, will achieve it’s stated aims we can wait with bated breath.