Pakistan Peoples Party

The Pakistan Peoples Party (Urdu: پاکِستان پیپلز پارٹی, commonly referred to as the PPP) is a left-wing, socialist-progressive political party of Pakistan. Affiliated with the Socialist International,[7] its political philosophy and position, in the country's political spectrum, is considered centre-left, and involves supporting public ownership, egalitarianism, equality, and a strong national defence.[8] Since its foundation in 1967, it had been a major and influential political left-wing force in the country and the party's leadership has been dominated by the members of the Bhutto family.[9] Its centre of power lies in the southern province of Sindh.[10]

Pakistan Peoples Party

پاکِستان پیپلز پارٹی
PresidentAsif Ali Zardari PPPP
ChairmanBilawal Bhutto Zardari PPP
Secretary-GeneralNayyar Hussain Bukhari
Leader in SenateSherry Rehman
Leader in National AssemblyBilawal Bhutto Zardari
FounderZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Founded30 November 1967 (1967-11-30)
HeadquartersPeople's Secretariat, Parliament Lodges at Islamabad, Pakistan
Student wingPeoples Students Federation (PSF)
IdeologySocial democracy[1]
Political positionCentre-left[5]
National affiliationPakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians
International affiliationSocialist International
Colors     red,      black,      green
SloganBread, Cloth and Shelter[6]
20 / 104
National Assembly
55 / 342
Sindh Assembly
99 / 168
KPK Assembly
5 / 145
Punjab Assembly
7 / 371
Balochistan Assembly
0 / 65
Azad Kashmir Assembly
5 / 49
Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly
2 / 33
Election symbol
Official website

Since its formation in 1967, the PPP has been voted into power on five separate occasions (1970, 1977, 1988, 1993, 2008). It dominated the politics of Pakistan during the 1970s, suffering a temporary decline during the military dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq. After the re-establishment of democracy in 1988 following Zia's death, a two-party system developed, with the PPP and IJI (later succeeded by PML(N)) as the two major sides. The party served as the principal opposition to the Musharraf-led liberal government from 1999 to 2008. Until the disqualification of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani by the Supreme Court in 2012, the PPP was regarded as the most influential political party in the country. It emerged as the largest opposition party in the National Assembly (lower house), during the 2013 Elections[11][12][13] as well as the governing party of Sindh.

Foundation and history

The PPP (Pakistan Peoples party) was launched at its founding convention held in Lahore on November 30 and December 1, 1967. At the same meeting, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was elected as its chairman. Among the expressed goals of the party were the establishment of an "egalitarian democracy" and the "application of socialistic ideas to realize economic and social justice". A more immediate task was the struggle against the dictatorship of General Ayub Khan, who was at the height of his power when the PPP was formed.

Left-wing beginnings

In the 1970s Ayub Khan's policies nourished the capitalist class at the expense of ordinary people. This period saw a drastic increase in income inequality and poverty.[14] In April 1968, Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the then Chief Economist of the Planning Commission reported 22 families who controlled 66% of the industries and owned 87% share in the country's banking and insurance industry.[15] Due to Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the economy collapsed, and investment growth in Pakistan saw 20% decline in following years.[16] Due to Pakistan Army's badly planned misadventures and blunders, Pakistan was not able to win the war of 1965 but victory was propagated.[17] Under influence of Soviet Union, both country signed Tashkent Declaration at Uzbekistan.[18] Tashkent Declaration shocked the people of Pakistan, who were expecting something different – because a public perception was built in Pakistan that they were going to win the war.[19] Ayub Khan fiercely defended the declaration and called it in the best interests of people.[20] This led to confrontation between Ayub Khan and his Foreign minister Zulifqar Ali Bhutto which finally led to resignation of later.[21] He went on accused Ayub of ‘losing the war on the negotiating table’.[22] Opposition parties decided to protest against the declaration, however State resorted with imposing ban upon public gatherings and arresting activists.[23] The resignation of Bhutto further angered and dismayed the public and the democratic-socialists.[24] On 5 February 1966, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman publicly announced his program of regional autonomy at a news conference.[25]

Bhutto's passionate stance against Ayub regime was hailed by leftists groups thus Bhutto gallivanted towards finding a position for himself in the National Awami Party. When Bhutto saw no space for him in the party, he decided to launch his own party.[22] On 30 November 1967, a convention was held in Lahore, where democratic-socialists and left-wing intellectuals gathered to meet with Bhutto at the residence of Dr. Mubashir Hassan, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was formed. The newly formed party's members elected Quaid-i-Awam Z.A Bhutoo as its first chairman,[26] and its manifesto, titled "Islam is our Religion; Democracy is our Politics; Socialism is our Economy; Power Lies with the People", was written by Bengali communist J. A. Rahim, and first issued on 9 December 1967.[24] The main objective of party was to establish a classless society and it adopted a clear Socialist program.[27] The document declared that

“Only socialism, which creates equal opportunities for all, protects [people] from exploitation, removes the barriers of class distinction, and is capable of establishing economic and social justice. Socialism is the highest expression of democracy and its logical fulfillment[27]”.

Although it was believed to be a socialist party however according to Philip E. Jones, party had three main ideological camps within they were briefly, Marxists, Islamic socialists and landed elite.[28] In 1968, when Ayub Khan was celebrating its "Decade of Development", demonstrations erupted in all the country.[29] Same year spontaneous students’ movement erupted in country due to unemployment and economic hardship which saw beginning of 1968 movement in Pakistan. In the same time, ideological differences emerged within NAP, which led to major split between pro-Soviet faction and pro-China.[22] Pro-Soviet faction which was led by Wali Khan suggested to adopt democratic path whereas pro-China faction led by Moulana Bhashani rejected and advocated a peasantry revolution to overthrow regime.[22] Due these factional splits there was a vacuum of leadership in country. The Bhutto effectively filled this vacuum.[30]

While these sections of the left were playing 'party - party' and juggling with democratic change the revolutionary blizzard bypassed them without even noticing their existence. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, being shrewder in sensing the mood of the mass movement, had embarked upon the 'need for socialism' and other radical slogans. This PPP programme clicked with the masses moods, aspirations and sentiments; the PPP became the largest party of the masses in the history of Pakistan, almost overnight. The first activists and cadres that gave the PPP a foot hold and standing were from the different Maoist groups and other scattered left activists. These groups were disillusioned and frustrated by the traditional Stalinist leadership of the left.[30]

In 1968, a massive public-relations program was launched by the party, beginning in Punjab. Bhutto's program directly targeted the country's poverty-stricken masses. The left-wing oriented slogan, "Land to the Landless", proved irresistible to the peasants and labour-force, as the party promised not only to abolish the fundamental feudalism that had plagued the country, but also to redistribute lands amongst the landless and the peasants. The working class and labour movement quickly flocked to the party, believing it to be a party dedicated to the destruction of capitalism in the country.[31] The young university students and teachers who often bore the brunt of Ayub Khan's dictatorial regime during his decade-long rule were promised a better future with better educational and career opportunities. Many other members of society who had felt stifled and repressed by the press-control and heavy censorship practised by the authoritarian Khan regime also joined the new party. The party's manifesto also attracted the country's numerous sectarian minorities, who quickly joined the party.[32] The continuous contentions, and pressure forced Ayub Khan to resign from the presidency in 1969, leading to imposition of martial law by Army Commander General Yahya Khan after promising to hold elections in two years. During this time, the Peoples Party intensified its support in West Pakistan, organizing itself and gaining support from poor masses in West Pakistan.[24]

1970 election and 1971 war

Ayub Khan succumbed to political pressure on 26 March 1969 and handed power to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan. President Yahya Khan imposed martial law and the 1962 Constitution was abrogated. On 31 March 1970, President Yahya Khan announced a Legal Framework Order (LFO) which called for direct elections for a unicameral legislature. Many in the West feared the East wing's demand for countrywide provincial autonomy.[33] The purpose of the LFO was to secure the future Constitution which would be written after the election so that it would include safeguards such as preserving Pakistan's territorial integrity and Islamic ideology.[33] In the background of recent political developments, the Peoples Party decided to hold its National Conference. The first conference was announced to be held at Lahore from 4–6 April 1969 but due to the imposition of Martial law, it was called off. Later from 1–3 July 1970, first National Conference was held at Hala Sharif, Sindh.[34] At this historical conference which is known as Hala Conference, there were two different opinions on participating in 1970 Pakistani general election. Some were argued that the Party should not take part in elections rather adopt revolutionary insurrection method to take power and others emphasized to take part in parliamentary democracy. At end unanimously, the decision to participate in the elections was taken.[35] On 4 January 1970, ZA Bhutto officially launched his elections campaign by addressing a public meeting at Nishtar Park, Karachi then conducted public meetings at Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh and NWFP.[36] Its socialist rationale Roti Kapra Aur Makaan (English: Food, Cloth, and Shelter) and "all power to the people", further popularize the party and the prominence that arise Bhutto and the Peoples Party.[37] By the 1970s, the Pakistan Peoples Party had become the largest and most influential leading socialist and democratic entity in the country. The party published its ideas in its newspapers, such as "Nusrat", "Fatah", and "Mussawat".[38] During the 1970 parliamentary elections, the Peoples Party contested with full force, initially defeating the far-right groups and the centre-right forces in West-Pakistan,[39] although the Peoples Party was decisively defeated by the liberal democratic Awami League in East-Pakistan.[37] During the election campaign, the party's noted leftist philosophers and communists intellectuals, such as Malik Meraj, JA Rahim, Meraj Muhammad, Mubashir Hassan, and Zulfi Bhutto himself appealed a great ire to the public over several political issues. Tensions arisen with Peoples' League and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the ideological differences further created hatred towards each other. The situation reached to a climax in 1970 where Awami League secured 160 seats out of 300 where the Peoples Party winning the 81 of 138 seats allocated to West Pakistan in the National Assembly.[8]

The results gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Bhut, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.[40] Instead, he proposed the idea of having two Prime Ministers, one for each wing. The proposal elicited outrage in the east wing, already chafing under the other constitutional innovation, the "One Unit scheme". Bhutto also refused to accept Rahman's Six Points. On 3 March 1971, the two leaders of the two wings along with the President General Yahya Khan met in Dacca to decide the fate of the country. After their discussions yielded no satisfactory results, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a nationwide strike. Bhutto feared a civil war, therefore, he sent his trusted companion, Mubashir Hassan.[40] A message was conveyed, and Rahman decided to meet Bhutto.[40] Upon his arrival, Rahman met with Bhutto and both agreed to form a coalition government with Rahman as Premier and Bhutto as President.[40] However, the military was unaware of these developments, and Bhutto increased his pressure on Rahman to reach a decision.[40] Soon after the launch of military action (see Operations Searchlight and Barisal), the situation in both wings created a divergence and distance between each other.

Bhutto and the Peoples Party criticised Yayha Khan's mishandling of the situation which led the arrests of Bhutto and members of Peoples Party who detained with Mujibur Rahman in infamous Adiala Jail.[24][39] This was followed by Indian intervention which led the bitter defeat of Pakistan Armed Forces and Pakistan itself, after East-Pakistan gained momentum and became Bangladesh in 1971.[41]

Post-war politics

As result of Pakistan's defeat by India in Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, General Yahya Khan was forced to resign.[42] On 20 December, he was taken to the President House in Rawalpindi, where he took over two positions from Yahya Khan, one as president and the other as first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator. Thus, he was the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator of the dismembered Pakistan. By the time Bhutto had assumed control of what remained of Pakistan, the nation was completely isolated, angered, and demoralized.[42] After becoming President, Bhutto in his first statement to foreign media correspondents said,

“Let us forget the past. We have made terrible mistakes and Pakistan is in a mess—the worst crisis in our history. But we have been given a terrible bashing by the Western press and I ask you now to please get off our backs while we put our house in order.”

PPP in Power - Bhutto era (1971-1977)

Bhutto vowed to build a new Pakistan and promised to fight back.[43] On 2 January 1972 Bhutto announced the nationalisation of all major industries, including iron and steel, heavy engineering, heavy electricals, petrochemicals, cement and public utilities.[44] A new labour policy was announced increasing workers' rights and the power of trade unions. Although he came from a feudal background himself, Bhutto announced reforms limiting land ownership and a government take-over of over a million acres to distribute to landless peasants. More than 2,000 civil servants were dismissed on charges of corruption.[44] He successfully negotiated the return of 93,000 prisoners of war and settlement with India.[43] He set up scientific community for making Pakistan a nuclear power[45] and authorized the atomic bomb project as part of the nuclear deterrence in January 1972.[46] The promulgation of 1973 constitution put the country to the road to parliamentary republic.[46] In PPP's first budget of 1972-3, health and education were nationalised and record 42.3 percent of total budget was allocated for health and education.[47]

National Assembly of Pakistan approved Constitution of Pakistan of 1973 on 10 April 1973 and it came into effect from 14 August 1973, same day Bhutto took oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan.[48] Bhutto tried initiate different reforms like taking school network to slums and small villages, creating basic health facilities, land reforms and housing schemes etc. However, "half-baked socialist model" applied in haste began to crack.[49] 1970s Globle economic recession and oil shock of 1974 further aggravated Pakistan economy's crisis. The failure of reforms resulted into rising inflation, increased crisis, thus resulted into disillusioned masses.[30] The letters of credit of country was rejected in the foreign banks and massive capital outflow was seen in country.[50] Dr Mubashar Hassan, then finance minister wrote in a note to all ministers, special assistants, provincial chief ministers and governors:

"We have been in office for more than six months. Many decisions have been taken but a growing implementation gap is becoming visible. Once the implementation gap sets in, the decline begins. We came to abolish the abominable status quo but the status quo is very much present..."[50]

Similarly, workers intensified their demands and during first months of 1972, whole country engulfed with periodic lockouts and encirclement of industries.[51] Among them notable struggles were "Emergence of a worker-led court under Abdur Rehman" in Kot Lakhpat[52] and Karachi labor unrest 1972. Although Bhutto introduced labour laws for the welfare of workers and their families however in reality legislation at the time was the real cause of damage to labour and trade union movement.[53]

In field of foreign policy, PP built good relationships with China, During Bhutto's visit to Beijing he successfully negotiated aid package worth $300 million for Pakistan and also write off loans amounting over $110million.[54] Similarly, under his leadership Pakistan hosted all the leaders of the Islamic world in the summit of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on 22 February 1974 at Lahore. In same years, serious issues emerged within ranks of PPP, when Bhutto decided to expand the activities of establishment in the government to keep an eye on Bhutto rivals.[55] After purging left wing activists from party ranks such as Malik Meraj Khalid, a Marxist and Law minister,[55] Dr Muashar Hassan also resigned.[55] PPP's socialist rhetoric also attracted fierce opposition from the right-wing Islamic parties, Under pressure from religious outfits Bhutto agreed opposition's burning demand. In Sept 1974, through a constitutional amendment Ahmadiyya community was declared non-Muslim minority.[56] Another tragic episode of PPP regime was 1970s operation in Balochistan, when Bhutto ordered Army operation in Baluchistan province against elected government of National Awami Party.

In 1977, Pakistan General Elections were held in which PPP secured majority. However PNA led opposition started demonstrations at perceived rigging in elections.[57] Opposition also labelled Bhutto as Kafir (Unislamic) and Alcoholic and resolved that if they came into power they will eradicate this evil.[58] But Bhutto responded by saying, ‘Haan mein sharab peeta hoon, laikan awam ka khoon nahi peeta!’ (Yes I drink, but I do not drink the people's blood).[58] Although, in 1974 Bhutto as Prime Minister had selective banned alcohol.[58] At the peak of movement, Bhutto offered to hold elections in November 1977 and offered ministries to PNA.[59] However, Bhutto and Peoples Party's adjustment with Pakistan National Alliance failed, sparking the civil disobedience against the Peoples Party, therefore the 1977 elections were held that resulted in first parliamentary victory of Peoples Party. Opposition parties claimed that the election was heavily rigged by the PPP.[60] Tensions mounted and despite an agreement reached between the opposition and PPP, martial law was imposed in the country by Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977.[61] The period between 1977 and 1979 was worst for PPP leaders and workers as Military regime unleashed brutal repression on them. In April 1979, after a controversial trial found him guilty of murdering a political opponent, Bhutto was executed by hanging.[62]

In 1982, his daughter Benazir Bhutto was elected as Peoples Party's chairwoman-ship.[39] The Peoples Party started the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy which was one of the greatest non violent democratic movements in the World against the ruthless dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq.

After twelve long years, the Peoples Party returned to power after winning the general elections in 1988 with Benazir Bhutto becoming the first female Prime minister of a Muslim country—Pakistan.[63] In 1990, the Peoples party's government was dismissed due to economic recession, issues regarding to national security and nationalisation. Benazir and the Peoples Party boycott the general elections held in 1990, served as leading opposition party for the first since its inception in 1967.[63]

The Peoples Party later returned to power in general elections in 1993 by plurality, forming alliance with JUI(F). But as the party governed, the party had the internal factions splits with three main ideological groups: the Bhuttoism, Parliamentarians, Sherpaoism, with Bhuttoism becoming the most influential and powerful in Sindh.[10][64] Internal opposition and disapproval of Benazir Bhutto's policy by her brother Murtaza Bhutto created a rift in their relations, and finally in 1996, Murtaza Bhutto was assassinated in 1996.[64]

The death of Murtaza Bhutto left unsolved mystery that is yet to be answered, but it had disastrous effects on Pakistan Peoples Party whose government was dismissed by the party's own elected President Farooq Legahri in September 1996.[65][66] Since 1996 and Bhutto's assassination, the Peoples Party has suffered with major internal factions, opposing Pakistan Peoples Party and Benazir Bhutto's sudden shift to centre-right economics. The Peoples Party, even as of today, currently facing rogue internal criticism of Peoples Party's direction and Zardari's political involvement in many of Peoples Party's ideology, many alienating and joining other parties.[67]

Recent history

After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007, the 2008 parliamentary elections which were scheduled to be held in January were postponed until 18 February. The PPP won the considerable victory on among all political parties, gaining a momentum of general seats 121 from all provinces in the Parliament, whilst the centre-right, Pakistan Muslim League came second in place, managing to secure 91 seats from all over the country. In 2008, the co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari announced to end the fourth dictatorship when he quoted: "Pakistan was on its way of ridding dictatorships forever", and appealed to the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to form a coalition controlling over half the seats in Pakistan's 342 seat parliament.

On 9 March 2008 in a press conference held in Muree, Punjab, conservatives under Nawaz Sharif and socialists led by Asif Ali Zardari officially signed an agreement to form a coalition government. Titled the PPP-PML summit declaration, the joint declaration both parties agreed on the reinstatement of judges deposed during the emergency rule imposed on 3 November 2007 by General Pervez Musharraf within 30 days after the new federal government was formed. On 28 March, the peoples party appointed Yousaf Raza Gillani for the office of prime minister and formed coalition government with Pakistan Muslim League (Q) in Punjab, Awami National Party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, JUI(F) in Balochistan and Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Sindh. While on other hand, the Peoples Party claimed the exclusive mandate in Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. However, this treaty was later on was violated by PPP government, after which PML(N) withdrew from coalition and federal government.

On 5 September 2008, the Peoples Party nominated its co-chairman and chairman of central executive committee, Asif Ali Zardari, for the upcoming presidential election. Zardari secured 481 votes out of 700 votes from the Electoral College of Pakistan, winning the Pakistan's presidential election on 5 September 2008. On April 2010, president Zardari voluntarily surrendered his political and presidential powers to prime minister Gillani and the parliament, and through 18th amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, Zardari transferred the authority of government and political appointments, and powers to exercise the authority of government to prime minister Gillani as part of country's road to parliamentary democracy. Even though growing unpopularity, it has managed to maintain a large vote bank in deeper Sindh and South Punjab. On national front, it is currently competing against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League (N). On 22 June 2012, the PPP nominated Raja Pervez Ashraf was elected as the new Pakistan PM.[68]

As of 2017, according to The Economist, the party "has become irrelevant outside their home province of Sindh."[69]

Electoral history

National Assembly elections

ElectionPresiding chair of the partyVotes%Seats +/–Government
1970 Zulfikar Bhutto 6,148,923 39.1%
81 / 131
81 Government
1977 Zulfikar Bhutto 10,148,040 60.1%
155 / 200
74 Martial law in effect
1985 Nusrat Isphani Non-participant
1988 Benazir Bhutto 7,546,561 38.5%
94 / 207
94 Government
1990 Benazir Bhutto 7,795,218 36.8%
44 / 207
50 Opposition
1993 Benazir Bhutto 7,578,635 37.9%
89 / 207
45 Government
1997 Benazir Bhutto 4,152,209 21.8%
18 / 207
71 Opposition
2002 Ameen Faheem 7,616,033 26.05%
81 / 342
63 Opposition
2008 Benazir Bhutto (assassinated whilst campaigning)
Yousaf Raza Gillani (Prime-Minister)
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (Prime-Minister)
10,666,548 30.79%
119 / 342
38 Government
2013 Asif Ali Zardari 6,911,218 15.32%
42 / 342
76 Opposition
2018 Bilawal Bhutto Zardari 6,924,356 13.03%
54 / 342
12 Opposition

Notable leadership

The first socialist and democratic convention attended by the leading 67 left-wing intellectuals who appointed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the first and founding chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party. After his execution, the senior party leadership handed over the chairmanship of the party to his wife, Nusrat Bhutto, and held the position into the 1980s.[70] In 1982, Nusrat Bhutto, ill with cancer, was given permission to leave Pakistan for medical treatment and remained abroad for several years. At that point her daughter, Benazir Bhutto, became acting head of the party while Nusrat technically remained its chairman[70] and was referred to as such as late as September 1983.[71] By January 1984, Benazir was being referred to as the party's chairman and subsequently secured the legal appointment by the senior leadership of Central Executive Committee at the convention held in 1984.[72] She had been elected chairperson for life,[73] which she remained until her assassination on 27 December 2007. Her nineteen-year-old son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari were appointed party co-chairmen after assassination of Benazir Bhutto on 30 December 2007.[74]

List of Party's Presidents

No. Prime Ministers Year Duration Presidential Elections
1 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto 1971-1973 1 year, 7 months, 25 days 20 December 1971
2 Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry 1973-1978 5 years, 1 month, 3 days 14 August 1973
3 Farooq Leghari 1993-1997 4 years, 1 month, 19 days 14 November 1993
4 Asif Ali Zardari 2008-2013 5 years 6 September 2008

List of Party's Prime Ministers

No. Prime Ministers Year Duration Elections
1 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto 1973-1977 3 Years,

10 Months, 21 Days

2 Benazir Bhutto 1988-1990; 1993-1996; 4 Years,

8 Months, 21 Days

1988, 1993
3 Yousaf Raza Gillani 2008-2012 4 Years,

2 Months, 25 Days.

4 Raja Pervaiz Ashraf 2012-2013 9 Months,

2 Days,


Current structure and composition

The Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Peoples Party of Pakistan serves as party's highest leadership, and apex governing authority, and is primarily responsible for promoting Peoples Party activities, promotion, media campaigning, welfare distribution, public policy and works. The CEC is the supreme parliamentary body in charge of setting out strategies and positions during and after elections. The CEC is currently chaired by Asif Ali Zardari,[75] assisted by additional vice-chairmen, including all the major office bearers of the party. However, the CEC is focused on election campaigning and organizational strategy during the national parliamentary elections, overseeing the media works, ideological promotion, and the foreign policy. The public works, welfare distribution are partly managed at the municipal unit level up to the federal level, which supervise and give legal authority for such works.

The PPP-Young Organization is a youth-led party organisation that attempts to mobilise the youth for Peoples Party candidates for the Youth Parliament. The group's Trotskyist-Marxist wing, "The Struggle", which is internationally affiliated with International Marxist Tendency (IMT) pursues an entryist strategy by working inside party's student wing, the Peoples Students, a student-outreach organization with the goal of training and engaging the new generation of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The Peoples Party also has an active military-street wing, the People's Committee, controversially affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party.[76]

Nationally, each province and territory has a provisional committee, made up of elected committee members as well as ex-officio committee members who elect its presidents. The local committees often coordinate campaign activities within their jurisdiction, oversee local conventions, and in some cases primaries or caucuses, and may have a role in nominating candidates for elected office under state law. All administration, campaign, and party policies required complete permission from the CEC's Co-chairman and the vice-chairmen.


In its inception, the notable communists from the Communist Party and socialists of the defunct Socialist Party gathered to form the Peoples Party in 1967 by electing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto its first chairman.[24] The Pakistan Peoples Party's leftist program remains far more successful and integrated in the civil society than Communist Party.[77]

Since then, the Peoples Party has been a leading proponent of democratic socialism with the mainstream agenda of social democracy, favouring semi-secular and semi-Islamic socialist principles. Historically, the Peoples Party favoured financially stable farmers, industrial labour unions and the middle-class. The Peoples Party rejected far-left politics and ultra-leftism, supporting unregulated business and finance, and laissez-faire capitalism, after which it was no longer widely viewed as a socialist or social-democratic party, as its economic policies swung dramatically to the right-wing, embracing economic neoliberalism and unfettered capitalism and privatisation of publicly owned institutions, favouring partial income taxes.[24]

Despite its democratic-socialist ideas, the Peoples Party never actually allied with communism, the Communist Party remaining one of its major rivals (The CPP is headquartered in Hyderabad, Sindh). The Peoples Party has been criticised by various socialists such as Fahad Rizwan who accused the Peoples Party of opportunism. Recently, the Peoples Party has adopted privatisation and small-scale nationalisation policies, with centrist economic and socially progressive agendas.[75]

Basic principles of PPP enshrined:

Islam is our Faith. Democracy is our Politics.

Socialism is our Economy. All Power to the People.

Issues involving foreign policy

Relations with the China, Russia and Iran are the central and the strongest proponents of the People's Party's foreign policy. Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan built closer ties with Soviet Union, China, and Iran, but under Benazir Bhutto, the foreign policy was revised after taking shifts to centre-right policies. On the other hand, Benazir Bhutto adopted Nawaz Sharif's conservative privatisation policies in order to secure funding from the United States and the World Bank, but received a harsh opposition from within the party.[75] Under former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, the People's Party pushed its foreign policy towards Russia as the party's relationship with the United States went cold in 2010. Earlier in the 1970s, the People's Party faced a "secret" cold war with the United States, but then suffered a US-backed coup in 1977.[75] Throughout the 1980s, the party's credibility was damaged by the United States who "keenly sabotaged" any of its efforts and organizational establishment in the dense areas of country.[78]


The Pakistan Peoples Party through Zulfikar Ali Bhutto proudly receives all credit for launching the atomic bomb project in 1972,[79][80] public ceremonies are held on Youm-e-Takbir (lit. Day of Greatness) to commemorate the political services of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who established the program.

In 1976 Murtaza Bhutto graduated from Harvard University, Bhutto graduated with his thesis entitled "Modicum of Harmony". His thesis dealt with the spread of nuclear weapons in general, and the implications of India's nuclear weapons on Pakistan in particular. Murtaza went on to Christ Church College Oxford, his father's alma mater, for a three-year course to read for an MLit degree. Bhutto submitted his master thesis, containing a vast argumentative work on Nuclear strategic studies, where he advocated for Pakistan's approach to develop its nuclear deterrence program to counter Indian nuclear program.[81]

Since its establishment, the People's Party has produced prolific scientists-turned technocrats, including Farhatullah Babar, Mubashir Hassan, and the senior academic scientists who played a role in building the atomic bomb. The People's Party member's notably provided their public support to Abdul Qadeer Khan who had been forced to attend the military debriefings by General Pervez Musharraf in 2004.[80] On August 2012, after years of negligence, the peoples party made its effort to bestowed and award Munir Ahmad Khan the highest state honor, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, as a gesture of political rehabilitation; the honor was publicly presented by President Asif Ali Zardari in a public ceremony.[82]

In 1995–96, the People's Party under Benazir Bhutto's era opened computer literacy centres to provide the public with access to computers and technology.[83] In 1990, they made Pakistan the first Muslim country to launch a satellite, Badr-I, they are also responsible for establishing, nurturing, and funding the missile's programs, such as Ghauri and Shaheen in the 1990s.[84] As part of the science policy, they established the Pakistan Science Foundation in 1973 and helped establish the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1976.[85] In 1996, Benazir Bhutto established SZABIST at Karachi to become a leading institution of science and technology and appointed world-renowned academic Dr. Javaid Laghari as its first president, who later was also elected Senator from Sindh on a technocrat seat and eventually Chairman HEC leading a revolution of reforms in higher education in South Asia

Challenges and controversies

Lost left

Since the 1990s, the People's Party has been under intense criticism even inside the party both from its own members and the other leftists in the country, notably due to the charges of large-scale corruptions. The leading leftist, Nadeem Paracha, has asserted that since 1977 the People's Party's manifesto has been transformed into a centre-right platform, whereas in 1977 parliamentary elections, the People's Party's manifesto did not mention the word "socialism".[86] During the 1973–75, the Peoples Party's radical ultra-left and communist wings led by Mirage Khalid and the Maoist wings under Khalid Syed were purged by the People's Party to ensure the political support of the powerful Sindh's feudal lords and Punjab's landed elite, with Paracha claiming the People's Party has "lost the left".[86]

Leading left-wing journalist Mehdi Hasan has remarked that the Peoples Party is "not a secular party",[87] firstly citing its support of declaring Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims through the second constitutional amendment, secondly for banning the use of liquor,[87] and thirdly, for the Peoples Party declaring Friday as a holiday to win the support of religious elements.[87]

Kashmir Cause

The chairman of PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led a convention on 19 September 2014 in Multan, Punjab, where he reportedly quoted: "the [PPP] would take back entire Kashmir for his country."[88]

Bhutto emphasized on his last part of the speech: "I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan. He pledged to continue supporting Kashmiri freedom struggle morally and diplomatically...(.)".[89]

Internal opposition and factionalism

Since the 1990s, the factionalism has grew in the party when Murtaza Bhutto returned to Pakistan.[64] Disagreeing with Benazir and Asif Ali Zardari's political philosophy brewing the party, Bhutto split and formed the more powerful yet more leaning towards left wing faction, Bhuttoist in 1995.[90] Confrontation with Benazir Bhutto in 1999 over the party guidance, Aftab Sherpao splits from the party and forming the Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpaoist)—a more reformist with libertarian agenda.[91]

Factionalism continued in 2011 when PPP sacked Mahmood Qureshi over the Raymond Davis incident in Lahore. Qureshi later defected to PTI. Another leftist leader, Malik Ali Khan also resigned from the Peoples Party, saying that he "did not agree with how President Zardari was leading the party particularly with regards to an alliance with centre-right PML (Q) and the foreign policy."[92]

In 2012, the PPP's powerful leader, Zulfiqar Mirza, quit from the party despite urgings amidst disagreement with Asif Zardari's leadership and policies with regards to dealings with the liberal MQM in Sindh. Reasoning with their isolation, the socialist politicians felt that the party had now moved away from the original ideas it was founded on by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1967.[93] In 2014, Labour leader, Safdar Ali Abbasi, formed the Workers faction amid disagreement with party's fiscal policy.

Despite defections, the PPP remains strong and holds a monopoly over the working class and Sindhi politics.

See also


  • Shah, Sayed Wiqar Ali (2004). Pakistan Peoples Party: Socialism and Dynastic Rule (Google books). Political Parties in South Asia. Washington, D.C.: Praeger Publishers. pp. 156–200. ISBN 0-275-96832-4. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  • Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali (1969). The Myth of Independence (PDF). London: Oxford U.P. ISBN 978-0192151674. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  • Lieven, Anatol (2011). Pakistan: A hard country (1st ed.). New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1610390237.
  • Hussain, Zahid (2010). Scorpion's Tail. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 245. ISBN 1439157863. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  • Jones, Philip E. (2003). The Pakistan People's Party: Rise to Power. Karachi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195799668.
  • Ali, Tariq (2012). The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. New York [US]: Simon and Schuster. p. 1960. ISBN 1471105881. Retrieved 7 April 2015.


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