LAHORE - The PPP is celebrating its 48th foundation day today but without any fanfare this time.

The central ceremony held every year to mark the day at Lahore, the birth place of the PPP, has been cancelled, and the party men have been instructed to hold ceremonies at the district level.

After two successive defeats, first in 2013 general elections, and now in the local body elections, especially in Punjab, the decision to keep it a low profile event has further dampened the spirits of already demoralised party cadres.

Senior party leaders acknowledge the fact that PPP was really in a bad shape in Punjab and needed extraordinary measures to revitalise its cadres. Party’s Secretary Information Qamar Zaman Kaira said last week that lack of conceptual clearance was the main issue to be addressed in the first place before doing anything else to set the things right. Many in the PPP think that party should revert to its founding principles instead of doing power politics.

PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari is not in the country but he has issued a message on the eve of party’s foundation day, pledging that party’s struggle to build a progressive, egalitarian and democratic society will continue unabated despite odds.

PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said earlier that Asif Ali Zardari had no plans to return on party’s foundation day. He said the main event in connection with the foundation day had been cancelled due to local bodies’ elections in Punjab and Sindh; but the day would be celebrated at the local level.

He argued that since the party office-bearers were busy running election campaign for party candidates, it would not be politically wise to disengage them from the campaign.

Local polls are due in Islamabad on November 30 (today) and on December 5 in districts of Punjab and Sindh.

In Lahore, PPP will hold a function in connection with the foundation day here today at Bhatta Chowk, Airport Road where party’s central Punjab president Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo will be the chief guest. Workers and office-bearers will gather at the party’s Model Town secretariat to depart for the venue in the form of procession.

Moreover, in his message on the occasion, party’s Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said: “I wish to reiterate that the party aims at making Pakistan a welfare driven state- a state in which the motivating force and rationale for state policies is the welfare of the people and nothing else”.

“Bhuttoism is the name of an ideology and the founding day is an occasion to rejoice and celebrate in that ideology. It is also an occasion to renew our pledge to empower the people, emancipate women, integrate the non-Muslim minorities in the national mainstream and strengthen democratic institutions and serve the masses,” he said.

Zardari said it was this ideology of Bhuttoism that the previous PPP government succeeded in restoring the unanimous Constitution of 1973, opening doors of political reforms in Fata and elsewhere. The previous PPP government, he said, took the militants head on, launched a massive poverty alleviation program and made the workers share-holders in state run enterprises.

“The journey in the pursuit of ideology must continue. We will continue our struggle to ensure that religion-based laws are not misapplied to stifle dissent or haunt non-Muslim minorities or hound vulnerable and weaker sections of the Muslims in the name of faith,” he observed.

Paying tributes to the political workers, he said that democracy had survived and flourished on their sweat, blood and tears. It is because of their sacrifices that dictatorship had not been able to take roots in Pakistan, he added.

“On this day I wish to reiterate that the epic struggle for safeguarding democracy and democratic institutions and empowering people will continue,” he conclude.