LAHORE - PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is arriving in the Punjab to lead the first anti-government rally from Lahore to Faisalabad scheduled for January 19.

Dubbed as “Save Punjab Rally”, it is planned after the announcement the PPP chairman on December 27 against the government for its failure to implement his party’s four-point charter of demands.

For the PPP, the upcoming show is significant as Bilawal is showing up in public gathering for the first time after the 2013 elections. Until now, the PPP chief’s political activities have been confined to a fortress-like building at the Bahria Town – miles away from the populace city.

Earlier in 2013, Bilawal had decided not to address any election rally in Punjab due to security threats. But now he feels confident enough to take to the streets.

Party’s central Punjab general secretary Nadim Afzal Chan said yesterday that Thursday’s rally would start from Bilawal House of Lahore at 10am and reach Faisalabad after passing through Sheikhupura, Nankana and Shah Kot.

Bilawal is scheduled to spend two busy days at Faisalabad, an industrial city of Punjab becoming a PML-N stronghold. Two PML-N stalwarts Rana Sanaullah and Abid Sher Ali belong to this city. PPP’s central Punjab secretary information, Mustafa Nawaz Khokar said that the party chairman would interview candidates to fill the vacant party slots in various districts falling in Faisalabad division.

Bilawal has already done a similar exercise last week in Islamabad where he interviewed aspirants belonging to Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Sargodha divisions.

Political observers, however, think that PPP plan to old public rallies is more a bid to galvanize the party cadres in Punjab than a move to mount pressure on the government for the acceptance its four demands.

They argue that general public especially the PPP voters who were mostly from the lower strata of society are least bothered about issues of national security, Panama leaks, CEPAC and appointment of a full-time foreign minister. People don’t think beyond their primary needs of bread and butter and the government does not seem bothered by this protest either, they say. 

The PTI has also planned a series of rallies in Punjab to mobilize public against the rulers on Panama leaks. In this connection, the PTI chief addressed a public gathering at DGK yesterday while two more have been announced for this month in Kasur and Sahiwal on January 22 and 29 respectively.

The two opposition parties seem to be in the electioneering mode ahead of the 2018 general elections. For many observers the current political activism in the PPP and the PTI is actually a fight between them for number-two position in the biggest province where the political fight to form central as wells as the provincial government would be fought. The current estimations place the ruling PML-N at number-one position by any standards. The opposition parties would have to work really hard to turn the tables on the present rulers.