Pakistan elections 2013 - the parties

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) - fighting to stay in power

Asif Ali Zardari (L) and Bilawal Bhutto
Asif Ali Zardari (L) and Bilawal Bhutto Getty Images/Peter Macdiarmid

The Pakistan People’s Party, standing under the banner of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), is trying to hold on to power after a bumpy ride at the head of the country for the last five years.


The PPP led the outgoing coalition government, under President Asif Ali Zardari and two successive prime ministers, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf.

  • Leader: Bilawal Bhutto
  • Founder: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
  • Founded: 1967
  • In power: 1971-77, 1988–90, 1993–96, 2008-2013.

The party was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on an “Islamic socialist” programme, won the 1970 election and won the 1977 election, only to be deposed by a military coup led by army chief General Zia ul-Haq.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed in 1979 after being found guilty of murdering an opponent.

His daughter Benazir Bhutto took over the party’s leadership, winning power again in 1988, and turning economic policy to the right and losing power to Nawaz Sharif’s Islamic Democratic Alliance in 1991.

The PPP won elections again in 1993 but the government, accused of corruption and ordering extra-judicial killings, was dismissed by President Farooq Leghari, a party member.

Benazir Bhutto left the country to be joined by Asif Ali Zardari after he had served a jail sentence in Pakistan.

She returned to Pakistan in 2007 in a deal with military ruler Pervez Musharraf but was assassinated.

Official leadership of the party passed to the couple’s son, Bilawal, a student at Oxford University in the UK.

Dossier: Pakistan General Election 2013

The PPP was the largest party in parliament after the 2008 election and formed a coalition government, which has served out its mandate but faces problems being reelected.

Although it draws most of its votes from poorer sections of Pakistani society, the PPP is dominated by wealthy landowners, including the Bhutto family, and is strongest in Sindh province.

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