The man who used to wear jet black sunglasses, a traditional Sindhi cap, and sometimes a cowboy hat has finally managed to defeat the Asif Ali Zardari camp after his long campaign that featured statements against the top Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership. Yes, I am talking about the Army officer turned politician Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.
Those who know him closely since his student days will not disagree that Mirza was born with a rebellious spirit. The former home minister earned his MBBS degree and joined the Pakistan Army in 1980 in the medical corps. But his defiant nature led to his expulsion in 1985, after he refused to vote in the referendum held by Ziaul Haq.
In politics too, he rebelled against Zardari and was thrown out of the PPP. He has been challenging the PPP leadership verbally for the last few years but succeeded only in the recent local body elections. His hard-earned success came in the face of winning all 14 wards in the Badin municipal committee, the area where PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, had campaigned before the local government (LG) elections.
Just before the LG polls, Mirza had announced that he would be forming his own party. However, I believe that was a mere political statement. I do not think he will create his own political party in the near future. But, in the long run, he could gather enough political clout to give the PPP some competition in Sindh.
I am fascinated by the thought of what the family can do as a political unit. With Zulfiqar’s fiery passion, Fehmida’s shrewdness and Hasnain’s idealism, the family could change the face of politics in Sindh.
However, I cannot ignore the fact that Mirza is not against the ideology of PPP. He is just opposed to Asif Ali Zardari and his close aides. His point of difference is mostly based on personal interests, not ideological politics.
Let’s not forget that Mirza is a traditional status-quo politician. He is not some avant garde hero just because he has challenged Zardari. He does not care about reforming the PPP for the concerned masses.
Moreover his political capital only extends to the boundaries of Badin since he has had close contact with the people of Badin over the years. Everywhere else, Zulfiqar Mirza’s name evokes little to no emotion.
The reasons why Sindh has been supporting the PPP for decades are two-fold. The first one is their deep love for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto. The second is the fact that they do not have another viable alternative to turn to. Despite PPP’s deplorable governance, it has been achieving success in Sindh. This is because no other party has challenged its hegemonic hold. Zulfiqar Mira could, he if had the political will.
Soon after winning the LG polls in Badin, Mirza told the media,
“PPP did not lose, it is a defeat for the Zardari gang.”
This clearly shows that Mirza’s defection is merely a part of a personal squabble and is not based on larger ideological grounds. He does not plan on revolutionising politics in Sindh, he just wants payback. Therefore, I do not expect Mirza to dominate the political scene in Sindh any time soon.