With Bilawal Bhutto, chairman of the PPP, publicly disowning Asif Ali Zardari’s statement supporting delayed elections, a rift in party leadership has been exposed. In some ways, it is good to see the chairman making his own place as the party leader, especially considering that the Central Executive Committee had previously asserted that a delay beyond the 90-day constitutionally mandated deadline would be unacceptable. At the same time however, PPP’s inconsistent stance on this matter had previously caused a stir in the political crisis of the country, and continues to do so right now as well.
Throughout the course of the last few months, the PPP has expressed an inability to stick to one party line. Timely elections were always the demand, but not one minister spoke out during the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting on approving and notifying the results of the census. It was only weeks later—when the ECP had issued a timeline for the delimitation of constituencies—that the PPP reverted back to its stance and demanded that elections be held within the stipulated time. Fast forward to Friday, September 8, the party showed flexibility as Bilawal suggested extension by 120 days was something that he, and by extension the party, was willing to accept. By disowning Zardari’s statement, it seems as though we are back to the hardline stance that the party had taken earlier.
At this point, such drastically alternating points of view are bound to not only add confusion to an already complex political problem, but they threaten to alienate the masses which may very well question the ad hoc approach that politicians have adopted towards the elections. In fact, they are witnessing and experiencing the effects of such destructive political approaches. Inflation is sky-high, unemployment is on the rise, as is the cost of living. The overall quality of life of an average Pakistani has declined so immensely that the only hope comes in the form of a stable political environment. To rob them of that through such an inconsistent stance risks public apathy towards the state.
The ECP has reassured all relevant stakeholders that it will expedite the process as much as it can but at the end of the day, it is vital that the leadership of the country is decisive and promotes a singular party line. Flexibility is a desired trait but it becomes damaging if positions do not evolve and instead, oscillate between extremes.