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, 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. 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. Its centre of power lies in the southern province of Sindh.
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, however suffered 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 inculcated, with 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 is currently the largest opposition party in the National Assembly (lower house), leading the consolidated leftist alliance in the Parliament. The party maintains its status as the governing party in its stronghold province of Sindh, as well as the majority party in the Senate.
The PPP was launched at its founding convention held in Lahore on November 30 and December 01, 1967. At the same meeting, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was elected as its chairman. Among the express goals for which the party was formed were the establishment of an "egalitarian democracy" and the "application of socialistic ideas to realize economic and social justice ". A more immediate task was to struggle against the hated dictatorship of General Ayub Khan, who was at the height of his power when the PPP was formed.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was founded by former members of the now-defunct Pakistan Socialist Party, banned by then-Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. In the 1960s, support for socialism as well as opposition to President Ayub Khan's pro-Western/pro-American policies mounted in West-Pakistan. Khan's unpopularity continued to grow following his decision to sign the Tashkent Agreement with rival India, in an effort to end the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965. The dismissal of charismatic democratic-socialist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto further angered and dismayed the public and the democratic-socialists, and made Bhutto determined to bring down the Khan government. As a result, a convention was held on 30 November 1967, 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, 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.
The manifesto identified the party's ultimate goal, main objective and raison d'etre as being the achievement of an egalitarian and "classless society", which was believed to be attainable only through socialism. It called for "true equality of citizen's fraternity under the rule of democracy", within "an order of social and economic justice." 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.
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.
Eventually, the socialist-oriented catchphrase Roti, Kapra aur Makan (lit. "food, clothes, and housing"), became a nationwide rallying-call for the party. 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".
After its foundation, the party gained prominence at an immediate, gravitating the poor mass, peasants and workers, and students throughout in West Pakistan. The democratic socialists and Bhutto himself tapped a wave of anger and showed strong opposition against Ayub Khan, leading the civil disorder, disobedience, and lawlessness that forced Ayub Khan to held talks with Bhutto who would later opposed the Six point movement, presented by Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 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. 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.
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, although the Peoples Party was decisively defeated by the liberal democratic Awami League in East-Pakistan. 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.
Bhutto refused to allow Rahman to become the prime minister of Pakistan, and famously called "break the legs" if any democratic socialists of Peoples Party tried to attend the inaugural session. Instead, he proposed the idea of having two prime ministers, one for each wing; this proposal met with heated criticism by East-Pakistan, leading Bhutto to send his most trusted companion, Mubashir Hassan, amid fear of civil war. A message was convened and Mujib decided to meet Bhutto. Upon his arrival, Mujib met with Bhutto and both agreed to form a coalition government with Mujib as premier and Bhutto as president. However, these developments were unaware to military, and Bhutto increased his pressure on Mujib to reach a decision. 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. 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.
The Establishment forced Yahya Khan to step down and hastily made Bhutto as president of the dismembered country.
For the first time in the history of the country, the democratic socialists under Bhutto came to power under a democratic system, Bhutto was made 4th president of Pakistan. Bhutto and his government worked tirelessly to make significant social and economic reforms that did much to improve the life of Pakistan's impoverished masses. Starting first with announcing a new labour policy, authorising the atomic bomb project as part of the nuclear deterrence in January 1972, and finally in 1974, the promulgation of 1973 constitution to put the country to the road to parliamentary republic.
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. 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. In April 1979, after a controversial trial found him guilty of murdering a political opponent, Bhutto was executed by hanging. In 1982, his daughter Benazir Bhutto was elected as Peoples Party's chairwomanship. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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 (N) 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.
As of 2017, according to The Economist, the party "has become irrelevant outside their home province of Sindh."
|General elections||Percentage of votes (%)||Votes cast||Seating graph||Presiding chair of the party||Parliamentary position|
81 / 131
|Zulfikar Bhutto||In Government|
155 / 200
|Zulfikar Bhutto||Martial law in effect|
94 / 207
|Benazir Bhutto||In Government|
44 / 207
|Benazir Bhutto||In Opposition|
89 / 207
|Benazir Bhutto||In Government|
18 / 207
|Benazir Bhutto||In Opposition|
81 / 342
|Amin Fahim||In Opposition|
124 / 342
|Benazir Bhutto (assassinated whilst campaigning)
Yousaf Raza Gillani (Prime-Minister)
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (Prime-Minister)
47 / 342
|Bilawal Bhutto Zardari||In Opposition|
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. 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 and was referred to as such as late as September 1983. 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. He had been elected chairperson for life, which he remained until his assassination on 27 December 2017. His 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.
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, 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.
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. The Pakistan Peoples Party's leftist program remains far more successful and integrated in the civil society than Communist Party.
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.
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.
Basic principles of PPP enshrined:
Islam is our Faith. Democracy is our Politics.
Socialism is our Economy. All Power to the People.
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. 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. 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.
The Pakistan Peoples Party through Zulfikar Ali Bhutto proudly receives all credit for launching the atomic bomb project in 1972, 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. As part of the science policy, they established the Pakistan Science Foundation in 1973 and helped establish the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1976. 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
Since the 1990s, the Peoples 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 Peoples Party's manifesto has been transformed into a centre-right platform, whereas in 1977 parliamentary elections, the Peoples Party's manifesto did not mention the word "socialism". 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 Peoples Party to ensure the political support and presence between the powerful Sindh's feudal lords and Punjab's landed elite, Paracha claiming it the Peoples Party has "lost left".
Leading left-wing journalist Mehdi Hasan has remarked that the Peoples Party is "not a secular party",, firstly citing its support of declaring Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims through the second constitutional amendment, secondly for banning the use of liquor, and thirdly, for the Peoples Party declaring Friday as a holiday to win the support of religious elements. ,
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."
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...(.)".
A group calling themselves the Indian Hackers Online Squad replaced the PPP's official website's homepage with messages ridiculing Bhutto for his comments, and claiming that "will never get Kashmir".
The message read on PPP's official website: "To Citizens of Pakistan, Pakistan's Army, Pakistan Peoples Party and Specially Mr. Bilawal Bhutto. Without any Violence, Let Me tell you that Pakistan will never Get Kashmir. This is the Truth. You Have to Accept it."
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Kashmir remark caused a stir in Indian Twitter and media circles.
Since the 1990s, the factionalism has grew in the party when Murtaza Bhutto returned to Pakistan. 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. 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.
Factionalism continues in 2011 when PPP sacked Mahmood Qureshi over the incident happened in Lahore, though Qureshi did not joined but defecting to PTI which is right-wing party. Another leftist leader, Malik Ali Khan also resigned from the Peoples Party, saying that "they 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."
In 2012, the PPP's powerful leader, Zulfiqar Mirza, quit from the party despite urgings on amidst disagreement with Asif Zardari's leadership and policies with regards to dealings with liberals 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. 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 politics, primarily in Sindh.
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