PAKISTAN PEOPLE’S PARTY (PPP) The inaugural convention of the Pakistan People’s Party was held in Lahore, on 30 November 1967, at the residence of Mubashir Hasan, a left-wing intellectual The party was created to provide Zulfikar Ali Bhutto with a political vehicle to use to return to politics The convention adopted the party’s ethos as “Islam is our faith; democracy is our policy; socialism is our economic creed; all power to the people” This proved to be a heady brew for the underprivileged segments of the Pakistani population Unlike scores of parties that had appeared on Pakistan’s political scene before the advent of the PPP, Bhutto’s organization was remarkably successful in gaining the electoral support of many groups of people It triumphed in the elections of 1970, winning 81 out of 138 seats allocated to West Pakistan It was because of the strong support received by the PPP in the elections that Bhutto was able to take the position that his organization should not be treated merely as a political party that would occupy the opposition benches in the newly elected National Assembly Instead, the PPP demanded that it should be considered equal to Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League, which had won an even more impressive victory in Bengal, Pakistan’s eastern wing This stance of the PPP ultimately contributed to the breakup of Pakistan in December 1971 and the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state Once in power in December 1971, the PPP leaders carried out their promise of bringing most large-scale industry, commerce, and finance under the direct control of the government

The nationalization of privately owned economic assets carried out by the PPP government in 1972-1974 led to a fundamental restructuring of the economy It also produced a sharp decline in the rate of growth of the gross domestic product, which contributed to the fall of Bhutto in July 1977 The PPP remained a potent political force throughout the 1980s despite its unpopularity with the military It was at the center of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, launched by the opposition against the military government of President Zia ul-Haq Zia’s death in a plane crash in August 1988 resulted in the return of the PPP to political power in December of the same year, under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto, who had become the party’s chairperson following her father’s execution in April 1979 The party survived another attempt by the military to send it into the wilderness when Benazir Bhutto was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, on charges of corruption and mismanagement Although the PPP performed poorly in the elections of 1990, which brought Mian Nawaz Sharif and the Islami Jamhuri Itehad (IJI) to power in Islamabad, the party improved its performance in the elections of 1993 In October 1993, with Benazir Bhutto once again sworn in as prime minister, the party was back in power to rule Pakistan for the third time in 20 years It was during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto as prime minister, however, from October 1993 to November 1996, that the PPP eventually lost support of the people It suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the Pakistan Muslim League in the elections of 1997 There were many reasons for the precipitous decline of the PPP

Scores of stories published in the press about the corrupt practices of the senior functionaries of the second Bhutto administration, as well as members of her family, contributed to the party’s loss of favor with the public These stories featured, in particular, the activities of the prime minister’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari Bhutto’s authoritarian style of management, along with the lack of party discipline, also contributed to its decline The PPP was not helped by the poor performance of the economy during Benazir Bhutto’s second term All these setbacks notwithstanding, the PPP emerged as a potent political force during the early years of the military rule under President Pervez Musharraf A series of corruption charges filed against Benazir Bhutto by the Musharraf government could have resulted in her arrest had she not left the country Choosing exile over incarceration, she continued to lead the party from Dubai and managed to win the second largest group of seats in the National Assembly with an affiliate-called the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarianscontesting the elections and the majority of seats in the Sindh Provincial Assembly The military, however, was determined to keep both Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif out of power, and to achieve this goal they encouraged the formation of yet another Muslim League, this time with the suffix, Quaid-e-Azam attached to it The Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) (PML[Q]) was able to govern only with the support-sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit-of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal The MMA’s support pushed the Musharraf regime toward the acceptance of political Islam as an active force in the country This was an uncomfortable position to occupy particularly in view of the suspicion with which radical Islamic groups were viewed by the West, in particular by the United States

By the fall of 2004, President Musharraf and his associates were persuaded to reach accommodation with the PPP A dialogue was started, which led to the release from jail of Asif Zardari in August 2004 Zardari was also allowed to join his wife in Dubai However, upon his return to Lahore on 16 April 2005, the government intervened and did not permit the PPP workers to hold a large reception for him at the airport

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