ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party has a mountain to climb if it is dreaming of appearing on the victory stand the electoral battle this time around.
The PPP leadership knows the situation is not tailor-made for them and it will be like coming out victorious in a royal rumble if and when the general elections are held. In the last two outgoing elections– in 2013 and 2018 – the PPP has not performed well in any province apart from Sindh, damaging its image as a national party. The PPP claims many reasons behind it and insists the vote bank is intact across the country, especially in Punjab.
The 2022 no-confidence motion which ousted the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-led government and brought Shehbaz Sharif to power gave the PPP a chance to recover.
The PPP had its share in power and was able to attract people in Punjab. The temptation was however, not strong enough to boost the chances of the party for the polls. After the confusion about the general elections, the PPP’s job has become even tougher. PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari is in contact with all the parties including the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to find a way out. He is reluctant to see the PPP as the second largest party in the parliament which will not fetch the coveted slot of the Prime Minister. Even the position of the President will be a far cry under such circumstances.
Zardari knows that without being the largest party, the PPP cannot get the lion’s share. The single largest party may not be an overwhelming winner and can enjoy the status with a slight margin. This comes with a risk that such a party can still sit in the opposition if the other parties join hands.
The PPP also does not trust the PML-N too much and even if it becomes the single largest party, it will be looking for smaller parties to form a coalition. The recent partnership in the government was also a marriage of inconvenience but the PPP held on till the end.
Punjab is a big mountain for the PPP to climb where despite some prospects in South Punjab, the party position remains weak. Two dozen seats from Punjab can give the PPP the push it wants. The more the better.
Senior PPP leader, Syed Murad Ali Shah – former Sindh Chief Minister – believes the PPP would emerge as the leading force in the 2023 general elections, with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the party’s chairman, assuming the role of prime minister.
He claimed the PPP was poised to establish the Sindh provincial government with a two-thirds majority.
Shah predicted the PPP’s enhanced electoral performance in Karachi and expressed optimism about forming a government in Balochistan through efforts by PPP’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Shah also foresaw party’s resurgence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and hoped for a better show in Punjab. Another PPP leader Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood maintained that the PPP was ready to make a return and secure a decisive victory in the upcoming elections.
Mehmood mentioned that the political landscape was open, and the “National Assembly holds 60 seats for Southern Punjab. The voters of this area are set to support the PPP.” Regarding seat adjustments, he said this option was open to the party and political parties always remain in contact. Despite the optimism of the PPP leaders, to stand ahead of the other parties, the PPP will need to do some wonders in Punjab – something they have not done in about ten years.