PPP’s big U-turn

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The trashing of the commisionerate system and the restoration of the district government system in Sindh by the PPP leadership – which amounts to PPP violating its election manifesto in order to fulfil MQM’s demands to stay in power – testify both to the ruling party’s political astuteness as well as its disregard for its ideology.
The party’s top leadership had openly criticised the district government system – put in place by the former president General Pervez Musharaf- for the past ten years, and some party members had even challenged the system in court, terming it “illegal and unconstitutional”.
PPP’s 2008 manifesto clearly stated that the party would replace the former dictator’s local government system after coming to power. Page 17 of the party’s 2008 election manifesto says: “The local government system, introduced by the military regime, which has been manipulated for political ends, will be revamped to bring it in line with the party’s devolution plan. Primary education, basic health, water supply, sanitation and population welfare will be looked after by the local governments. The deputy commissioner will perform the functions of the DCO. Local government will be based on modern patterns such as those that exist in the established democracies of the world. Caretaker district governments would be established during elections.”
Moreover, PPP Sindh Secretary General Taj Haider had recently told Pakistan Today that the party had challenged the district government system in various courts as the same was in clear violation of the constitution.
However, PPP’s big U-turn on this issue clearly states that in power politics, party manifestoes are just pieces of paper which could be trampled over once the party is in power.
Moreover, this action of PPP is in deep contradiction with the history of the party. Traditionally, PPP had been situated on the center-left of the political spectrum; the party leaned heavily towards socialist ideology and aimed at uplifting the masses. The party has, to date, sacrificed the lives of its two chairmen; Zulfikar Ali Butto and Benazir Bhutto, and struggled against and survived the dictatorial regimes of General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf. The recent abolishment of the commisionerate system signifies that the PPP, under its present leadership, is ready to pay any price to remain in power.
An eminent political scientist, Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi said, “Under Zardari, there is no place for any ideology in PPP. What the PPP is currently engaged in are the politics of power and expediency. This approach is vitally important to the PPP presently, both in order to stay in power and keep away adversaries.” Dr Rizvi concluded, “There are no principles underlying PPP’s politics. This is pure power politics and it follows no law or ideology.”