Wednesday, June 19, 2019


April 1, 2019
 By Saeed Qureshi
Bilawal Zardari Bhutto assumed the office of the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party on December 30, 2007. Then he was barely 19 years old. Now he is 30 years.
His mother and the chairperson of PPP Benazir Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007 while going out of the pavilion after addressing a huge public meeting. In a span of 12 years, Bilawal Bhutto has been transformed into an enlightened and a mature politician.
His father Asif Ali Zardari took a momentous decision to appoint him as the head of PPP which is a leading political Party of Pakistan. Asif Ali Zardari himself remained as the president of Pakistan for five year from September 2008 to Sept 2013. Bilawal Bhutto had attained his education in England at Christ Church Oxford.
When he took over the reins of the PPP in 2007, yet at that time, he was indeed a novice both in terms of expression in Urdu language and understanding of the political landscape and culture of Pakistan. His speech was tainted with English accent and his approach to the political issues was still unripe. His public utterances had been incoherent and interspersed with odd and occasional uncalled for outbursts.
Yet presently if you watch him answering questions or his tone and tenor with journalists, it is a different Bilawal Bhutto than what was used to be at the initially stage of his leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party. Now in casual encounters with the journalists, he speaks a much-refined Urdu dialect than what it used to be earlier. His demeanor seems to be packed with confidence, awareness and even tinge of humor about the variety of issues that the people of Pakistan and country are faced with.
Although one may point out that if the PPP wins the next general elections, he would look too young at the age of 30 to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Yet such a precedent can be seen in his mother Benazir Bhutto who became the chairperson of PPP Pakistan when she was 29 years of age. (born on June 21, 1953)
Lately, Bilawal’s  outbursts, his roaring in public speaking as well as high-pitched statements and speeches in the National Assembly have been toned down with a vivid tinge of sobriety, confidence and perseverance. Of late, he demonstrates that he has learned a lot over a period of 12 years by way of his expression as well as enhancement of the knowledge about the issues that Pakistan and its people are faced with and need to be resolved.
However, If the Pakistan People’s Party is the party of masses then it should discard the tradition of having dynastic chairman or head of the party from the Bhutto family. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as the founder of the party could remain the boss of the PPP as long as he wanted to be. His succession by his wife and later by his daughter Benazir Bhutto was done in affection and as a token of alliance with the Bhutto family. But to keep the presidency of the party within Bhutto clan is outright negation of the manifesto and ideology for which this party was founded.
Still, if the party echelons want Bilawal to lead the party, he may do so because it is basically the approval of the party members and cadres who decide about the head or chairman of the party. Same is true about the other political outfits such as PMLN, KPKH, JUI, ANP and TLP. Even PTI cannot think of anyone else becoming the head of the party as long as Imran Khan is there.
In his latest statement Bilawal decried the contrast between the punishment given to his mother and his father formerly Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. He also pointed the lack of action against groups that killed children in Pakistan and carried out attacks on foreign soil.
The PPP may come into power through next national elections and form the government at the center. In that scenario we shall have to watch how a young scion of Bhutto family serves the nations and implements a reform agenda that could be revolutionary and a game changer for the betterment of Pakistan and its people.
If Bilawal assumes the premiership he would still need the guidance and solicitation from the senior members of PPP and more specifically from his father Asif Ali Zardari. It might be a spectacular situation if Mr. Zardari takes over as the president of Pakistan while Bilawal might remain the prime minister. I am not aware if it is constitutionally viable or permissible.
Let me finally quote the comment by a well-known journalist M Ilyas Khan about Bilawal and the probable situation that could emerge in the time to come.  He says, “But in 2018 he has emerged as a charismatic campaigner in a political atmosphere of acrimony, name-calling and abuse. He has used clean language, focused on issues and connected well with his audiences.”
Lately Bilawal Bhutto reacted to the decision of changing the name of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), calling it a conspiracy aimed at shutting the program down entirely. Talking to the media, after a plantation drive in Shikarpur, Bilawal revealed that “those looking to change the name of BISP are conspiring to completely end it”. These are stunning statements which might turn fiercer as the time passes.

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