Years of neglect, poor performance haunt PPP workers
PESHAWAR, Feb 14: With five years of the poor performance of the provincial coalition government under their belt, the Pakistan People’s Party workers feel shaky about their party’s success in the upcoming general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The party activities, said a diehard PPP worker, had picked up some momentum since its incumbent provincial head took over the party affairs in October last year, but, added the party supporter, it all appeared to be ‘too little and too late.’
“PPP’s graph has registered an enormous decline in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the past five years,” said Malik Naveed, a PPP worker from Peshawar city.
Price hike, power outages, and tales of corruption under the provincial coalition government are some of the most grilling issues that haunt the PPP workers, feeling disenchanted to do the difficult work of convincing voters to vote for their party candidates in the upcoming general elections.
PPP workers, in their background interviews, said the party’s new provincial president had pulled the party back to the reactivated mode from the depths of inaction, but it was not likely to do wonders in the coming elections.
Talking to Dawn on the condition that their names would not be disclosed as they don’t want to spoil their relations with the party leadership, PPP workers said their party’s election prospects would largely depend on the candidates to be fielded and not the party agenda or promises.
“This election is not about future promises or cashing in on PPP’s sympathy vote bank because of the people’s association with the Bhutto family, the chances of success would rest on the race horses,” said a diehard PPP supporter. He said the party’s ability to field ‘wealthy’ candidates, who could spend millions of rupees on electioneering and who were also connected with the masses could yield better results.
“PPP lost touch with the masses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last five years and its presence at the grassroots level diminished to obscurity as a result of its provincial leadership’s failure to keep its ward-level organisations active,” said a PPP leader from Peshawar city.
Malik Naveed believes the party leadership distanced itself from the political ideology of the Bhutto family. “They (PPP leaders) put Bhuttos’ (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto) principles on the back burner in their pursuit of self interest,” said Mr Naveed.
What are the Bhuttos’ principles and why are they so important to PPP workers? When asked this question, PPP workers said Bhuttos’ gave respect to the party’s diehard supporters at the grassroots level and they listened to them with patience.
“No matter our problems were solved or not, we felt respected because our voice was paid attention to and we formed the core of the party in old times,” said a party worker from the Ganj area of Peshawar.
“My elder son, a recent graduate of the Engineering University, is a supporter of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf because he finds hope in Imran Khan’s message,” said a PPP leader from Peshawar, adding “I can’t argue with my son because I could not get him a respectable job even though we have been in the government for five years.”
However, like Malik Naveed, other PPP workers attached high hopes to the party’s sitting provincial chief Anwar Saifullah. “He is a public figure unlike his predecessors who ran the party affairs from their drying rooms and hujras,” said a PPP voter.
He added that the party’s ability to make its workers work for the party in the next elections would also depend on the leadership’s decision whether they forged electoral alliance with the Awami National Party or not.
“If PPP contests the next election in an alliance with or under any understanding with ANP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this is going to be the last nail in its coffin,” said a PPP worker.
PPP workers, he added, could not simply work for their own party candidates under any understanding with ANP because of their old electoral rivalries with the ANP supporters.
“Being the senior coalition partner, ANP has dominated the provincial government affairs for five years,” said the PPP leader from Peshawar, “how can our workers forget that they suffered at the hands of ANP leaders who preferred their supporters whenever an opportunity came to employ somebody in the provincial public sector.”