Cover Story

PPP’s Leadership Crisis

The PPP’s record of running the government has not been a very enviable
one though its young leader Bilawal Bhutto believes in progressive politics,
in learning from the past and looking forward.

By Cynthia Ritchie | July 2020

Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” tells of a boy who got bored and decided to amuse himself by toying with local villagers’ emotions. The boy played a practical joke and yelled, “Wolf, wolf!” knowing the villagers would run, pitch forks in hand, to save the boy and sheep from ravenous wolves. After numerous jokes, the villagers no longer believed the boy and failed to come to his aid when he actually needed it. “The boy cannot fool us again,” they said, ignoring his pleas. The wolves devoured the sheep, depriving the villagers of a major food supply.

The fable’s themes include deception, faith, responsibility, truth and trust.

This preamble reminds me of Pakistan’s politics.

Opinions regarding Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership vary wildly. Historically the PPP has enjoyed a global reputation for progressive leadership, promoting democracy, women’s rights, eradicating the feudal system, poverty and upliftment of the masses.

During the 1970s, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s PPP was a socialist nationalist party with the mandate of ‘Roti, Kapra, Makan’. After the war of 1971, PPP controlled the country. They went on to win the 1977 elections and ruled for some time. Opposition claimed rigging and, as tensions increased, Gen. Zia ul Haq declared martial law.

After a controversial trial, Z.A. Bhutto was found guilty of murdering a political opponent and hanged in 1979.

Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, was later elected twice as Prime Minister but her government was dismissed both times on corruption charges - Benazir herself was accused of alleged corruption as well as extra judicial killings. In 1990, Benazir was removed from office by President Ghulum Ishaq Khan who accused her of corruption; then in 1996, President Farooq Leghari levelled similar allegations against the Prime Minister.

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