Why should the PPP not utilise a ready-made, God-given opportunity where political martyrdom is willing to save the day for them? As the history of elections in Pakistan tells us, the PPP has never campaigned for elections on the basis of its performance and good governance, nor does it plan to do that now.
If governance was the PPP’s priority, its voters would not have to witness 18 hours of loadshedding despite four-and-half years of claims promising otherwise. Furthermore, inflation would not be in double digits, the government would have shown concern over large chunks of Pakistan’s textile sector shifting to Bangladesh and, hence, causing unemployment, Karachi would not be burning, the GDP growth target (despite being very low) would not have been missed and the government would have come up with a strategy to curtail the phenomenal budget deficit and stopped printing money to meet its expenditure. Isn’t all this enough to show that governance has never been a priority for this PPP-led government?
If it was, its promises of 24 hours of electricity by December 31, 2009 would have been met. Has any government in Pakistan’s 64-year history changed four governors for the State Bank as well as four finance ministers? The Pakistan Railways situation keeps deteriorating but the railway minister sits comfortably. Certain figures are still in power despite corruption charges, our national airline currently suffers its worst annual losses and, finally, we have a prime minister who says that he was congratulated more on being convicted by the Supreme Court than on becoming prime minister.
With this state of affairs, the PPP is doing exactly what it should do to contest the next elections. In the past, the PPP was victimised by the establishment and, hence, always plays the victim card. Benazir Bhutto’s assassination created an environment in the 2008 elections that allowed the party to cash in on a sympathy vote. However, the PPP was neither able to deliver good governance or keep its promise of bringing Benazir’s assassins to justice. So, in addition to the above victim cards, the party has invented a new one by not implementing the Supreme Court’s judgments and politicising the Court. The judiciary has also helped by not taking up cases across the board and giving the PPP an opportunity to build an impression of one-sided accountability.
Coupled with this victim card is the demand for a southern Punjab province. It was never on the PPP’s agenda until March 2011 when the prime minister said: “The formation of a Seraiki province will be a part of the PPP manifesto for the next elections”. However, the PPP is bent on making a new province in this tenure to capitalise on south Punjab’s vote bank and on its grievances with the current Punjab government. Resolutions in the National and Punjab assembly have also been passed in this regard.
So, get ready for the next elections where the PPP will play its victim card and, this time, it is not against its traditional foe establishment but someone newer by the dynamic name of the judiciary. Little wonder, that the election campaign will be led by none other than Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.
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