By Wahab Tariq Butt
I write this letter to try to share with you the sentiments of us common people after your speech on 18th October. First of all, I congratulate you for the mamonth gathering of people last Saturday, that gave the message loud and clear:Pakistan Peoples Party is not down and out. It is worth praise how you spoke against extremist mindset, establishment’s propagandas and their stooges trying to bring change through lotas. It is also worth praise how you plan to continue PPP’s policy of reconciliation, parliamentary politics and change through ballot.
But to convince people to vote for you, and to support you in your agenda, you have to show them that you are now in charge, that you have a plan and the will and capacity to abide by it. Some points are fundamental for PPP’s recovery and for you to climb up the ladder and be the leader of this nation.
1. Get rid of your father. This may seem harsh and perhaps may hurt a bit but its the reality. Asif Ali Zardari is not a charismatic leader. He is neither a good speaker, nor a leader like personality. Right or wrong, he faces serious accusations which make his character dubious in eyes of people. He may have successfully completed his 5 year tenure as the President of Pakistan, but his short term vision and ‘puncture politics’ has ruined PPP. From puncture politics, I refer to his short term fixes of problems, temporary muk muka to keep things going rather than politics on principle- an example is PPP’s coalition with PML Q in Punjab which left PPP voters in disdain.
The lowest point of your speech was when you said “agli bari phr Zardari”. Dont you get it? People have rejected Zardari and his style of politics. They want a brave, uncompromising leader who can go in public and tell them that work is being done to improve their miserable lives. Zardari has to make one final speech where he says that he is handing over the party to you as per the will of your martyred mother and is saying goodbye to politics and will do charity work only. This is your way out, because otherwise you will always be seen as a front man of your father and not as a leader.
2. Show that you are incharge. This is as important as it can get. People are sick of PPP’s poor governance and even those who agree with PPP ideology find it difficult to support and vote for it. You have to show that poor governance is thing of the past and now you will be making sure that this doesn’t happen. You have to be actively seen interfering in how affairs of your party as well as the Sindh government are run. You should be seen in Karachi, Larkana and Lahore on the very same day and make teams that can take your message to public. If you think gaining PPP’s lost ground will be a walk in the park, you are fooling yourself.
3. Changes are not only to be done, they should be seen as being done. Tough decisions are necessary. Chief Minister Sindh, no matter how much senior and well respected is a symbol of old poorly governing PPP. He has to be immediately retired and changed with a young dynamic personality. If you want youth to follow PPP, you can’t expect them to be lead by Qaim Ali Shah. Ministers in Sindh have to perform or they should be immediately replaced. Same goes with the bureaucracy. People will not vote for you unless you show performance and Sindh is your last chance to show performance. Don’t waste it. Competition will be intense from performances in Punjab and KP when elections come. If you are there, in the election year, giving a rhetoric that Sindh is poor because British built canal system in Punjab, trust me, people will not buy it.
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4. PPP ceases to exist in Punjab, thanks to poor governance and poor leadership choices. Manzoor Watoo is neither an old PPP jiyala nor fits PPP’s leftist ideology. If you want him to lead PPP Punjab and then expect a revival, you are making a mistake. Punjabis respect people with a personality and a character. You have people like Aitzaz Ahsan and Qamar Zaman Kaira in Punjab. They are your last bet. Announce Aitzaz Ahsan as Chief Minister Punjab, give him complete authority and let him present himself as an alternate choice to Shahbaz Sharif. Come to Punjab and try to understand it by visiting different cities rather than confining yourself to Bilawal house. A jalsa in Lahore without first changing PPP Punjab leadership and getting the message across to disdain supporters will be a mistake and PPP will further expose the wound.
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5. Silence your critics by removing the source of criticism. A lot has been said and written about your family’s assets, corruption. Just merely saying that nothing has been proved will not work now. You have to shut up your opponents by doing things that they never expect you to do. Symbolic things like announcing to bring all your money to Pakistan (your dad can still keep some abroad for difficult times) will really do wonders and people will actually see you as a leader. You are bold, you are taking the right stance on many things and saying many things right, but now you have to do what no one in Pakistan has ever done. You have to walk the talk. Your success will depend on whether you can do it in the limited time you have before next elections come or before your remaining supporters lose hope and join other parties.
Best of luck. I hope you will take this in good spirit and at least consider what I said. Pakistan Peoples Party being a progressive, moderate party is vital for Pakistan and it is important that its leader understands the challenges the party faces. Pakistan Zindabad.
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