ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party is set to start the first phase of its protest campaign from Punjab in what will be seen as a test for the party’s young chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
In the first phase, PPP plans to hold public gatherings in different cities of Punjab this month, dates for which will most likely be announced by Bilawal today (Wednesday). Venues recommended by the PPP Punjab chapter are Gujranwala, Sahiwal and Faisalabad, party sources said.
Depending on the public support PPP musters from these initial gatherings, the party is planning to march a big rally towards Lahore. This rally will start from Sindh and cover South Punjab districts of Rahim Yar Khan, Multan and Faisalabad before converging in the Punjab capital, PPP leaders involved in planning said.
“This campaign will decide if PPP will be relevant in Punjab during the 2018 elections,” a PPP leader said. The party’s Punjab chapter has gained some renewed hope after Faisal Saleh Hayat and Khalid Ahmed Khan Kharal rejoined it.
PPP has been planning to make Punjab the battle-ground for its anti-PML-N drive. The newly appointed provincial office bearers were tasked with planning an aggressive anti-government movement. Zardari’s return and subsequent announcement to join parliament eclipsed Bilawal, who was thought to have been taking a lead role in the party he inherited.
Bilawal is in Islamabad these days and conducting interviews of aspirants for party offices in different north Punjab districts. After his interaction with party workers from Rawalpindi division on Monday, he met activists from Sargodha, Khushab, Mianwali and Bhakkar districts for different party positions of Sargodha Division on Tuesday.
Naheed Khan challenges PPP elections
Naheed Khan, a close aide of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has challenged the holding of PPP’s intra party polls organised on January 7. “The hurried and the clandestine manner in which the elections have been held belie the very concept of upholding democratic traditions. Serious questions have been raised over the manner in which the elections were conducted,” she said in her letter addressed to chief election commissioner.
Naheed Khan made her own faction due to her differences with Asif Ali Zardari after the death of Benazir Bhutto. She is in litigation against PPP over the name of party. Naheed Khan has questioned both the holding of intra-party elections while the case is sub-judice and the credibility of the exercise.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2017.