Larkana by-election | Pakistan Today

Larkana by-election

  • The PPP loses again

For the PPP to have lost a provincial seat from Larkana, the home district of party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his daughter Benazir Bhutto and current party chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was bad enough in the general election, but to lose again in a by-election, with its government holding the reins, was even worse. Yet that is what has happened. While there may be charges that the result was engineered in the general election, the by-election showed that either the provincial government was grossly incompetent in failing to prevent a repeat, or that disaffection has set in.

Disaffection does not result from voter fatigue, but because the PPP has been weak in performance. The PPP leadership, whose home district it is, have been guilty of taking their voter too much for granted, of assuming that the Bhutto magic will last forever. It should not be forgotten that Larkana was at the centre of the AIDS epidemic that occurred this summer. No ruling party should be able to overcome such a public-relations disaster. The PPP has for too long assumed that interior Sindh was its as if by right. Loyalty to a dead leader might be all very well, but the modern voter wants a greater result for his vote than the rather hollow satisfaction of a particular party or a particular individual holding office. At least he wants freedom from the fear of being killed, whether by such deadly epidemics as AIDS, or from the more mundane starvation, that has been occurring in the Thar, another instance where the PPP government has hardly covered itself with glory.

Instead of seeking to improve performance, the PPP should stop blaming others for this defeat, and acknowledge that this particular constituency has probably had enough of it and has slipped out of the party leadership’s hands. It should also remember that it has been in office since 2013, and might see itself defeated if its provincial government does not improve its performance, especially in its service delivery in the fields of education, health and infrastructure development. It should not ignore the fact that its latest defeat has been political, and any renewal will also have to be political.