The ‘curse’ of the PPP

Published: September 29, 2011

Zaidi claims that the PPP was plagued with bad luck. However, 40 year's later, one wonders whether the PPP's bad luck is enforced by the government itself.PHOTO: PID

Akbar Zaidi, one of the country’s foremost political economists, in his magnum opus ‘Issues in Pakistan’s economy’, discussed at length the Bhutto government of the 1970s. 

The writer brought in a new side by delineating the causes for that government’s failure with regard to various aspects of policy making, including the legendary “bad luck” factor. The bad luck dynamic, in Zaidi’s analysis, comprised of some salient factors, both international and domestic, that contributed to the unwrapping of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) socialist economic agenda. These were the oil crisis of 1973 that led to high inflation and balance of payments problems in many third world countries, the floods of the same year, jute revenue lost after Bangladesh’s creation, as well as depleted foreign exchange after a colossal cotton crop failure.

The PPP-led coalition government of today seems to face a multitude of problems as well: terrorism, a severe energy crisis, fleeting investment channels and a year of massive deluge followed by another one with never-ending rains. However, even if one concedes that the regime does indeed seem to be hampered by the ‘bad luck’ factor today, its apologists would still need to dig hard to find evidence of any appropriate response by the government to the many challenges that it is facing.

Take, for instance, the response to this year’s rains. Yes, one wouldn’t expect an otherwise desert oasis getting over a thousand millimetres of rain. However, was the disaster so overwhelming that even ministers and members of parliament from the affected areas could not make it to their constituencies to help out in the rescue and relief effort?

Were no lessons learnt from the previous year’s experience? The weakened embankments on either side of the Indus River suggest that this indeed was the case. The absence of even logistical supplies in towns such as Nawabshah, Khairpur and Larkana — places with a solid PPP vote-bank — is difficult to comprehend.

All in all, Zaidi’s bad luck factor seems to be ‘enforced’ this time around by the government itself.

Taimur Arbab

Taimur Arbab

A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Language and a graduate student at Aga Khan Institute for Educational Development, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • CB Guy

    why do all these analysis end up when they had just started. poor writing really. Recommend

  • Adeel

    Its a shame Akbar Zaidi came up with such a thing…4 finance ministers, high support prices, 4 SBP governers, mismanagement in public sector entreprises and Zulfiqar mirza cant be attributed to bad luckRecommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Mr Arbab
    You need lot of study and then analysis some thing please very poor……….Recommend

  • Adeel

    PPP IS the curseRecommend

  • Adnan

    PPP was the party whose leader famously barked that they will break the legs of anyone who dares to go to Dhaka; and thus doomed doomed Pakistan just to come in power despite losing elections.It was the party which destroyed Industries by nationalizing and scared capital and entrepreneurs away forever.This is a party which leaders names are synonymous with corruption and embazlement charges.A party with no democracy, where leadership is passed like royal linage.This is only political party in the world where sisters have killed their own brother (According to Fatima Bhutto) just for power.This is a party when in power created Taliban(Yes the actual Taliban were made in Benazir Govt;before that nobody had even heard the name of Taliban).This party leaders go abroad when floods and any other calamity strikes.;blatantly lie when doing deals behind close doors(Remember how NRO was done).This party is a product of illetracy and blind idiotic fellowship.O God! Please have mercy on us.Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    The first thing that the PPP faced was that the establishment was against it. The military and the bureaucracy feared and hated the PPP and still do. However, things are a little different today versus the seventies. In 1970 PPP had a charismatic and intelligent leader in the form of Z.A. Bhutto. His leadership team was also extremely strong and powerful. The PPP of the seventies was revolutionary in that it gave a voice and self respect to the downtrodden masses.
    The establishment that is the true usurper of peoples rights feared the PPP because it was popularly elected and took them on.

    Even though PPP is the only party that continues to enjoy the popular vote in Pakistan, things have changed over the years. The level of corruption has increased tremendously and the leadership is less qualified and mediocre. The other thing that has happened is that today’s PPP is guided and controlled by the establishment (army and bureaucracy) which in turn make them less of a threat to the establishment.

    Some of the issues that PPP has faced may be due to bad luck, but they themselves are to blame for a lot of the follies that they have committed.Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    I still hold the belief that ZAB was the best politician Pakistan ever made.Recommend

  • Maheen Hassan

    Well it’s actually easy to put everything on luck! In the current context, no doubt the problems are the consequences of Musharraf’s regime but I guess a time of 3 or 4 years is enough to at least cope up with SOME problems. Not even talking about long-term projects but why is the government so inefficient in managing the immediate problems? At the very least, they could stop the corruption related to PM or easier, lessen the number of ministries – but no! If Sher Shah Suri could introduce such drastic reforms/progress in a small period of 5 years when even scientific advancements hadn’t come to sub-continent, why not this government in this age of development :S

    I’m not commenting on the intentions of the government but if the intentions are good, then there’s definitely something wrong with their policy making capability! Or if we’re wrong in thinking this, then maybe the government wasn’t able to prove it’s supposed competence.

    Lastly, I think we all know that the PPP of 1970s and the one we have now are ENTIRELY different. No match!Recommend

  • Umer Khan

    I agree with the article. Circumstances have been awful but many things could have been done.Recommend

  • Maheen Hassan

    And just to add to my point – the real test of a leader or a leading party as a whole comes only in case of an adverse situation. Smooth government and well-built systems ko to koi bhi run kar leta hai :) crisis management is the real test of how effective the leadership abilities are!Recommend

  • mahrukh feroz

    i dont believe in the “bad luck ” factor , thre policy makings if were for nations benefits it wud have worked long back … somehw its our , we as nationals of pakistans fault that since 1970 ? we r not geting one simple thing that they were not , and will not do anything for us plus everyone knws it has to rain once a year like this … why not be prepared for it before ? i think just because they dont want too :) its pretty long but in short ….

    bad luck ? nah i dnt think soRecommend

  • Doctor

    While I believe the PPP has done some things right, let’s stop pretending ZA Bhutto was a great leader. He was not. Zia was much worse than him but ZA Bhutto’s racism against Bengalis is what lead to the tragic events of 1970 and 1971.Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    All in all ZAB was by far the best leader we have had.Recommend