The defeat in the Bhutto bastion, Larkana, should jolt the PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari into introspection and the entire party leadership into rethinking their strategy. According to unofficial results of the by-election in Sindh Assembly constituency PS-11 (Larkana-2), Moazzam Ali Abbasi of the Grand Democratic Alliance defeated his nearest rival, Jamil Soomro, of the Pakistan Peoples Party by 5,536 votes. The by-poll was necessitated after the Supreme Court unseated Abbasi, who had won the seat in the 2018 general election.
The two successive defeats of the PPP should set the party leadership on a course to rethink the party strategy. Some fundamental flaws in the party’s policy have been revealed. One important flaw is the party’s unbalanced attention on one side while wholly ignoring the other. Experience shows this kind of strategy soon begins to give diminishing returns. In parliamentary democracy, all segments of voters count. Political equation keeps changing, so should parties’ strategies and policies. Under electoral democracy, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in all circumstances.
The PPP is a party that was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and whose legacy was ably and successfully carried forward by Benazir Bhutto. She swept the 1988 general elections through her services to the common people. When she had won that general election, all the tigers of Pakistan politics had fallen by the wayside. She was rightly described both by the national and international media as “Gulliver among Lilliputians”.
Now is the time for some soul-searching. The PPP ruled at the Centre from 2008 to 2013 and has been ruling in Sindh for the past 11 years. So the defeats in Larkana point to the PPP’s failure in satisfying the aspirations of the masses. Now the party should realise that there are voters in urban Sindh too and they would vote for it if it pays attention to them. The policy of ignoring a large section of the population has not and would not work. There is a tide in the affairs of men/Which, taken at the floods, leads on to fortune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2019.