Naveed Aman Khan
COMMENCING from Karachi to Larkana Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has completed ‘Train March’ in March to assert party power and gain political advantage at the time when chairman and Co-Chairman of PPP are facing NAB cases against them. Pakistan People’s Party always plays Sindh card very tactfully. This time Sindhi leaders Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Murad Ali Shah and Agha Siraj Durrani have been summoned in Rawalpindi and Islamabad in different cases against them. The Sindh Province has always been stronghold of PPP because Larkana is the hometown of founder of the Party Zulfakar Ali Bhutto. This is why Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s first phase of ‘Train March’ has ended at Larkana. As a politician Bilawal enjoys countrywide popularity. Factually PPP has long been the only most popular party in Sindh. Other political parties only gather scattered seats in the province. Even in May 2018 election PTI with all ‘covers’ could not drastically damage vote bank of PPP in Sindh. Like his mother Benazir and maternal grand father late ZA Bhutto, Bilawal also is Oxford Graduate and politically potential leader. In 1987 his mother late Banazir Bhutto completed ‘Train March’ with unprecedented popularity and political successes. To some extent Bilawal also has same sort of charisma in his personality like that of his mother and maternal grand father.
This ‘Train March’ of Bilawal from Karachi to Larkana has jolted Premier IK and his ‘powerful friends’. Life threat of Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed to Bilawal made Bilawal’s journey a challenge. Bilawal has mentioned that if he is attacked police case will be registered against IK and Sheikh Rasheed. Such a situation will be a big blow to PTI government. Successful completion of Bilawal’s ‘Train March’ has politically reorganized and reenergized PPP on Sindh provincial level in particular and national level in general. ‘Train March’ was a political advantage gaining pressure tactic. Though it was not a political movement yet the PTI leadership felt scared of this ‘Train March’. PTI coalition government has continuously been struggling hard to defame PPP and PML-N leadership in corruption cases . Imran Khan believes that he can’t politically survive in presence of political stalwarts Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari this is why he wants to see Sharifs and Zardaris behind the bar. Interestingly Nawaz Sharif’s bail and Shahbaz Sharif’s ECL matter is result of pressure of Bilawal’s ‘Train March’ because PTI government doesn’t want to provide ideal circumstances to Sharifs and Zardaris at the same time so that they don’t join hands against the government.
Earlier after being convicted and ousted from the government by Supreme Court PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif opted for going back in the masses to make them understand his narrative of innocence and injustice done to him. As a leading politician going back in the masses was Nawaz Sharif’s justified political decision as he successfully achieved the objectives. PML-N is still intact because of Nawaz Sharif’s popular political narrative of ‘Vote Ko Izzat Do’ (honour the vote). After being dragged in NAB cases Bilawal also decided to go in the masses. He too will achieve political advantage by mobilizing the Sindhis before next fiscal budget in June. In Senate PTI doesn’t have majority this is why post budget it will face serious problems for final success in Senate. If PTI introduces new taxes in new fiscal budget this political ‘Train March’ will be recharged by Bilawal and if government doesn’t enforce new taxes it will be facing serious difficulties in running the business of the government. This will be ideal situation for PPP and PML-N leadership. In case Bilawal and Asif Zardari are sent to jail it will politically benefit struggling and sinking PPP. Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto are ready to welcome jail because only jail will once again give new life to dying PPP. This time jail will be a blessing in disguise for PPP. In such a situation Asifa Bhutto Zardari will come out to flare up political pressure on PTI and establishment. If it happens it will provide strong political training to young Asifa Bhutto. She thus will start her political journey with ideal circumstances. This situation will make her popular leader of PPP. She will enter the practical politics solely gathering sympathy of injustice. Sindhis will go for her heart and soul and this mood of Sindh will again challenge PTI federal government and the establishment.
Besides countless shortcomings of PPP leadership Sindhis have always been supporting Bhuttos. Sindhis believe that ZA Bhutto was unjustly murdered, that is why they have never forgotten him. Bhutto’s judicial murder could not vanish him and his party from the hearts of the Sindhis. ZA Bhutto’s judicial murder rather made him a political phenomenon. This is why in worst circumstances PPP is still in power in Sindh. PMLN, PTI, MQM, ANP, JI and establishment could not scratch and replace PPP in Sindh. True that life in desert of Thar is big black spot on the face of PPP. True that entire Sindh even today is begging for basic rights of clean drinking water, health, education and livable dwellings. True that PPP has completely been unsuccessful in fulfilling its first and the most popular slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makaan’ (bread, clothing and dwelling). It always remained a dream slogan only. True that even life in Larkana districts the home of PPP is as miserable as that in Thar. True that even today human beings and animals drink water from the same contaminated ponds in interior Sindh. True that after decades long governance PPP could not change fate of Sindhis. When Pakistan People’s Party leaders feel that Bhutto (Z A Bhutto) is politically dying they chant slogan of ‘ Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha Aaj Bhi Bhutto Zinda Hey’ (Bhutto is still alive). Non of them admits that ‘Kl Bhi Sindhi Tarasta Tha Aaj Bhi Sindhi Tarasta Hey’ (Sindhis are always deprived of). Besides all these injustices yet Zardaris will achieve their political gains. To defuse Bilawal’s ‘Train March’ show now ridiculously IK has come out chanting same slogan of ‘Roti Kapra aur Makaan’. What a misery. What a pity!
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.