LUBP is currently conducting a series of interviews with Pakistan Peoples Party’s long-time supporters (Jiyalas) and independent political analysts to have their views on the party’s electoral debacle in 2013. The aim of this series is to provide constructive criticism and sincere reflections to the party’s leadership in order to improve the party’s performance as well as perceptions in the future.
Brief introduction of the interviewee:
Aamir Hasaini started politics as member of the Peoples Student Federation (PSF) and worked at various positions in the student wing of the PPP. He has also worked in PYO before joining stepping in the fabric of the main PPP. Currently he is a professional journalist and columnist. He also writes regular articles for LUBP and various newspapers and websites.
LUBP: What is your association with the PPP? Brief history or/and views please?
I am General Secretary of PPP study circle wing, in District Khanewal (Punjab).
LUBP: How do you compare PPP with other leading political parties of Pakistan?
This is the only political party which represents the working class of urban and rural backgrounds in Pakistan. Its founding ideology gives power to masses.
LUBP: Both its supporters and critics are unanimous that the PPP leadership has become disconnected from the masses. Kindly elaborate on this and identify the specific reasons for this distancing.
Yes I am seriously feeling this distance between the party leadership and masses. First of all, the PPP’s leadership is not in contact with grass root workers of party and its office holders never go to cities,towns,villages. Its organizations particularly in Punjab mostly are dead and exist only in papers.
First reason of that disconnection was the failure in delivering the promises made by leadership to party workers. Second reason was the domination and control over party of feudal and wealthier class which have elitist mentality and consciously maintain a distance from poor party workers.
LUBP: Since 2011, the party outsourced a significant section of its foreign policy to a pro-establishment think tank, the Jinnah Institute, founded by PPP’s ex-media advisor Sherry Rehman. To what extent has this move compromised the PPP’s ideological stance in foreign relations?
PPP always has an image of anti- establishment party. But in their previous most recent tenure whenever a chance came to enhance that image, the party bowed in front of establishment. Such policy of inclination toward establishment damaged the party’s image.
LUBP: During Benazir Bhutto’s exile from1998 to 2007, there emerged a buffer between the PPP leadership and the masses in the shape of a certain group of select elites whose loyalties to the PPP were always suspect. To what extent did it affect the popular roots of the PPP especially amongst the youth?
Monopoly of certain groups of elites in the Party has been become serious issue. Being a journalist having sympathies for PPP I wrote many articles, report and even letters to leadership about this issue which was cutting popular roots of the Party in masses particularly in youth. But nobody took pain to change this tendency.
LUBP: PPP’s inside circles confirm that two former ambassadors to the US played a key role in the party’s media policy. To what extent do you think the PPP was able to (a) manage perceptions in the masses, and (b) communicate its point of view and achievements effectively in the media?
I personally know that leadership of the PPP tried to manage perceptions in the masses through media and they distributed heavy amounts among some anchors and reporters and gave bribes in grants to members of APNS, CPNE and patronage to many other journalists. But this policy did not work. PPP never paid attention on its actual performance in government. Mismanagement was on peak and there was nobody present to control this.
Other thing which I call tragedy for the party was that our leadership during the last tenure tried to get support of such media persons who are children of General Zia and establishment eg Mujib Shami, Arif Nizami, Abdul Qadir Hasan and others. I was told by inner circle of Kaira and others that some persons of Government and a real estate con contacted such anchors and journalists and tried to get their support. However, in the end, such effort proved futile and heavy amounts spent were wasted…..khaya piya kuch nahi , glass tora bara aane.
Our government gave posthumous award to former federal information minister in Zia era and ignored pro democratic, progressive and radical journalists totally. Can any body tell me what helped Shoaib Khan Bhutta type so called editors and owners of dummy news papers in managing the image of Party in masses while they got heavy amounts through secret funds of information ministry and ads. What was the justification of allocation of funds to Saaleh Zafir, reporter of Jung group, who propagated malicious reports against PPP during five years.
LUBP: While other parties (PTI, MQM, PMLN) developed their media and strategic policy wings in house, the PPP appears to have outsourced these functions to certain development consultants who remain simultaneously aligned with the establishment and PML-N. How effective was this strategy?
Haha…….Can we call this strategy?effectiveness of such stupidity is out of question.
In my view PPP did not take pain to prepare any strategy to develop media and strategic wings in house seriously. And i wrote many articles in which U pointed out that in the start Zardari Sahib was serious to change strategic polices of the country and we saw some action by the Government in the start eg notifications about control of ISI and IB.
But with in one and half year, PPP quit such efforts and handed over all control to military establishment. Serious defeat of Party in this matter was forced resignation of Hussain Haqaani. In my view, the Memogate scandal was the last nail in coffin. After that, the military establishment gained whole control.
LUBP: The Shias, Christians and Hindus amongst other numerical minority groups were considered most loyal PPP voting bank. It’s now established that PPP has lost trust and support of these communities due to its apathy, inaction and insensitivity on Shia genocide, and persecution/murder of Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis etc by Jihadist-sectarian groups. To what extent are party’s media and policy advisors responsible for this callous mismanagement?
In my view we can not blame the party’s media advisors and media policy for this callous management. Actually when Salmaan Taseer and Shehbaz Bhutti were killed then Party leadership withdrew its secular, progressive and pro-minorities policy.Even I think our party leadership took a U-turn and practically bowed in front of the clergy and fundamentalists. New Governor after murder of Taseer removed his portrait from the Governor house. No anniversary meeting was held in the Governor house and no leadership went in the Chehlum of Salman Taseer. The reforms committee for the blashphamy act was abolished after the murder of Shahbaz Bhutti.
LUBP: One of the major causes of PPP’s recent electoral debacle was its perceived inability to manage the energy crisis. Why was the PPP unable to communicate its tangible achievements in this regard?
I think big reason of this inability was policy of maintaining the status quo.
LUBP: Why was Najam Sethi’s name proposed as caretaker CM of the Punjab? This is the same person who undermined the PPP government in the last many years from Pakistan’s largest private TV channel, shifted the blame to the PPP, and is also known for links with the establishment and for humanizing sectarian terrorists.
There are many such stupid decisions made by our leadership and we are still wondering about rationale behind such actions.
LUBP: To what extent has the policy PPP policy of appeasement damaged the party?
ik to hotey muhabbat mein junoon ke aasaar
aur kuch log bhi deewana bana daitey hein
LUBP: Why has peoples party failed to engage or attract Young Jiyalas?
I think the Party has no policy to engage with youth but only to tease and disappoint them.