Former president and Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari returned Friday to Pakistan in a private jet from Dubai. The former president returned to Pakistan after abruptly leaving the country in June last year following a hard-hitting speech in which he lashed out at the military establishment for overstepping its domain. In his June 16, 2015 speech, the former president had said army chiefs ‘come and go every three years’ but that the political leadership was here to stay. ‘We know the country better and we know how to run its affairs,’ he had said. Warning the establishment to refrain from character assassination of political parties in the same speech, Zardari had said, ‘If you do not stop, I will come out with a list of accused generals since Pakistan’s creation.’
In a related development Rangers carried out major actions in Karachi where they raided three offices of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s close aide and impounded important documents.
The raids are being seen as a clear sign that despite the return of the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman there will be no let up in the operation in Karachi. Many had suggested that Zardari’s departure from the country nearly one and a half years ago was also in anticipation of possible action against him. The Rangers raid it seems has sent a clear message to everyone stakeholder in Sindh that there will be no let up to the operation. The media hype surrounding the arrival of Asif Ali Zardari aside, the return of the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman will change little as far as the Pakistani politics go. Some have suggested that his arrival could cause worry to both the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf but such a possibility doesn’t look likely. If anything the return of Zardari and the fanfare surrounding it within the Pakistan Peoples Party suggests that despite tall claims regarding the leadership of party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, many believe that he still not capable of playing any meaningful role to reestablish the party and the experience of Asif Ali Zardari is desperately needed to ensure that the party remains in the race in the next elections that are now merely a year ago. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has no doubt made a show of reorganizing the party in Punjab on his terms, but there is little doubt that the senior Zardari is the real power in the party.
Once the fanfare is over Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership will have to do some serious brainstorming. The party’s irrelevance outside the province of Sindh, the allegations of corruption, the 19th century condition of interior Sindh, startling governance issues, the party’s obsession with super model Ayyan Ali and its diminishing role in national politics are just few of the major problems that the party needs to fix quickly. Keep in mind that the nature of these problems is such that there seems no quick fix to these issues.
As it stands rival parties look uninterested in the return of Zardari which suggests that they don’t consider the party much of a threat outside Sindh, will the Peoples Party surprise everyone and be able to change the perception is the questions that will be answered in the coming days.
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