Pakistan Still Awaiting Benazir Bhutto’s Natural Succesor

Five years ago, the assassination of Pakistan’s first (and thus far only) female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, though long feared, stunned the world. At the time, she was a favourite to win in the upcoming general election.

book1Today her party PPP, a centre-left, democratic socialist political party, is once again a crowd favourite- however Bhutto’s absence is still keenly felt.

In the midst of crowded rallies and vociferous support, their campaign has lacked a central charismatic figure to channel the general public’s interest into solid support. Although the PPP claimed victory in 2008, it was felt that this was mostly on the back of a wave of sympathy for the party over the loss of Bhutto. With her image still heavily utilised by the PPP on its campaign material, it seems like they are hoping to once again sail to victory on the back of public nostalgia.

Pakistani President Asif Zardari’s wife stepped into Bhutto’s shoes after her murder, and it is she who is now standing for election in this former Prime Minister’s constituency. Also known as Addi Faryal, Talpur holds no official position, however she has been the most powerful women in the party since Bhutto’s passing due to influence which she wields on government and party dealings.

voters don’t appear to be biting- and if anything, the PPP’s invocation of Bhutto is only serving to reinforce the rift between the voters and the party

Due to fears of terrorist activity, the PPP has been forced to keep their campaigning conservative, but Talpur is doing what she can to promote the party- albeit i
n a very modest way. The lack of a central galvanising figure gas certainly stymied the party’s power to raise support for their cause, and

critics are criticising the PPP’s apparently desultorily campaign efforts.

 

On a recent TV advert by the party, Talbur states, “Today, when I ask for your votes in the name of Benazir Bhutto it is because she remains our leader, she is a hugely symbolic figure,” tellingly coasting over any legitimate voter issues. However voters don’t appear to be biting- and if anything, the PPP’s invocation of Bhutto is only serving to reinforce the rift between the voters and the party, who feel that the party is growing increasingly detached from their needs, unlike the sympathetic rallying point of Bhutto.

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