Irshad Salim (MAMOSA Report) — Taking a jibe at Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s after his recent broadside against Sharifs and their government’s performance in center and in the country’s largest province, Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-u-Rehman urged PPP to focus on improving affairs of the financial and Sindh’s capital Karachi.
PPP rules the southern province of Pakistan Sindh, where an urban-rural divide is markedly skewed for political reasons: The moderate, centrist party traditionally wins most seats in the province’s rural region, and has not been able to make significant inroads in its capital, mega port city of around 20 million people of all ethnicities– once called ‘Paris of the East’ and a stronghold of MQM supported by its rising middle class Urdu-speaking populace.
The Karachi party though stands split, it remains popular, according to several influential Karachiites and political observers.
The fault line between the capital of Sindh and rest of the province manifests itself in different ways and directions adding schism to the metropolis socio-political dynamics. With PPP in power in the province and MQM leading the toothless local government in its capital (ironically Pakistan’s financial capital) — its garbage disposal still remains woefully unaddressed, other city-specific turf battle undercurrents and mismanagements notwithstanding.
On Tuesday, a team of World Health Organization (WHO) reached Karachi to develop a ‘detailed plan of action’ to provide support to the Sindh health department regarding outbreak of ‘chikungunya’ and dengue, mainly because of continued non-collection of garbage from the city and dearth of vector killing spray, reported the Daily Times.
“Mr NRO should see towards Sindh. Heaps of garbage could be seen in Karachi. The PPP should clean first Karachi. They have made Karachi Moenjodaro, said the minister. Cheating in exams has become the culture of Sindh. First try to eliminate corruption from Sindh,” the minister added quoted The News.
The uptick in Punjab politics comes amid Panamagate verdict followed by Dawn Leaks notification malfunction which PPP and PTI (Imran Khan’s party) as well seem to think is a double-whammy for the Sharifs and their bastion of support and power may be up for grab.
Like strange bedfellows the two parties — one with stronghold in Sindh, and the latter having its powerbase in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are making similar spins with the strategy to come up with a differentiator suitable to them.
PPP flexes muscles in Lahore against Sharif brothers
With possibly such in mind, according to observers, PPP on Thursday staged a protest demonstration against load shedding in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, where Sharif’s party PML-N rules for the last eight years.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Shareef have fulfilled their promises, 5710 MW of power generation will be included in national grid till December 2017, Rehman said, adding, “PPP cannot win in next election. PML-N will win next election too.”
According to a local media outlet report, Lahore’s Nasir Bagh and its surroundings reverberated with slogans of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ during the protest demonstration by PPP workers and supporters as the party flexes muscles in Punjab against the Sharifs.
PPP activists (jiyalas) thronged the event to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which has a stronghold in the city since decades.
Addressing PPP workers, National Assembly opposition leader Khurshid Shah said the PML-N led government has miserably failed to eliminate the load shedding despite tall claims, as there is an average load shedding of fourteen hours in the rural and urban areas of the country.
In his address, PPP leader and Senator Aitzaz Ahsan came hard on the incumbent rulers of the country over the issues of Panamagate and Dawn leaks. He was of the view that Sharif brothers made scapegoats in the issue of Dawn leaks instead of naming the real culprit.
PPP central Punjab president and the main organizer of PPP’s public show Qamar Zaman Kaira delivered his whole speech in Punjabi and warned the rulers that PPP has come on roads and now it will become difficult for Sharif brothers to stay in power.
“History has witnessed that Zia ul Haq, Parvez Musharraf, Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Laghari were ousted from power when workers of PPP came on the roads and the history will repeat itself,” Kaira said.
The jury, however, is still out there on this. But one thing seems likely: PPP and PTI are getting closer – a development that cannot be written off.