Home Global Village Zardari plans to exploit divisions within PML-N to make gains in Punjab

Zardari plans to exploit divisions within PML-N to make gains in Punjab

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“Some noted individuals have been in contact with us and soon some major announcements will be made,” PPP President Asif Ali Zardari told a gathering of the party’s ex-ticket holders belonging to Sargodha division at Bilawal House Lahore on Tuesday. The statement has given an indication that the badly bruised PPP has decided not to abandon the largest province of the country.

Read more: Arrest the Sharif family immediately, says Asif Ali Zardari

Mr. Zardari is in Lahore for the past week holding meetings with party leaders and former ticket-holders from various regions of the province to boost their morale and discuss strategies for the forthcoming general elections. He further added that party workers should prepare for elections saying they will fully compete in Punjab this time around.

Only last week, Senior PPP leader and a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Nadeem Afzal Chan resigned from his post as the party’s Punjab General Secretary. He based his resignation on “moral grounds” yet many saw a link with the joining of his brother Waseem Afzal to the PPP’s political rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

He optimistically stated that “the PPP will form the government not just in the center, but in Punjab too, after the next general election”. He blamed the previous debacle in 2013 election on the Returning Officers and termed the 2013 elections as an “RO’s election”. The former president also declared that results of such elections only measure political parties’ rigging of polls, not their popularity.

Many observers are cynically examining the statements of Mr. Zardari who is known to have undertaken an opportunistic approach time and again. His claims come at a time when people are deserting the PPP in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Only last week, Senior PPP leader and a close aide of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Nadeem Afzal Chan resigned from his post as the party’s Punjab General Secretary. He based his resignation on “moral grounds” yet many saw a link with the joining of his brother Waseem Afzal to the PPP’s political rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

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The PPP was the most badly impacted party in the 2013 elections that saw the rise of the PTI to the mainstream and the third government of the ruling PML(N). The elections and subsequent by-polls caused many observers to declare the PPP extinct in the Punjab and labeled the PPP as restricted to Sindh.

Perhaps, it is these rifts that Zardari has perceived to hold the key to PPP’s return to Punjab. It is a reality that in the rural and semi-urban environs of the Punjab, votes are given on the basis of personality.

This perception was bolstered by the actions of the PPP which had seemingly taken a Sindh only line. The August 21 statement of Zardari that Nawaz Sharif was plotting to make “a greater Punjab” is a case in point. For a long time, it seemed that the PPP had been banished to Sindh forever.

However, recent events seem to have given the PPP hope for a return. The PML(N) leader Nawaz Sharif who seemed all-powerful was disqualified by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision on the Panama papers. His fall from power has prompted rifts and infighting among his party.

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Perhaps, it is these rifts that Zardari has perceived to hold the key to PPP’s return to Punjab. It is a reality that in the rural and semi-urban environs of the Punjab, votes are given on the basis of personality. For a party to succeed it must have a sizeable amount of electables in its ranks. Many rulers of Pakistan, both military and civil, have utilized such electables to win elections. The winning team of the PML(N) in 2013 was no different. Many of its ranks consisted of former PML(Q) members who had previously worked for his nemesis, Pervez Musharraf.

Many incidents such as the federal minister Riaz Pirzada’s outburst against Nawaz Sharif, the tussle between Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz point to the fact that there is much dissension within the ranks of the PML(N) and it may well be on its way to a political demise.

Zardari remarks also signify the matter of the health of the PML(N). Once seen as a formidable unified force, it now appears to split at the seams. Many incidents such as the federal minister Riaz Pirzada’s outburst against Nawaz Sharif, the tussle between Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz point to the fact that there is much dissension within the ranks of the PML(N) and it may well be on its way to a political demise.


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