Thursday, February 1, 2018
A 13-member delegation headed by former MPA Khyber Pakhtunkha Assembly Skindar Irfan called on former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Asif Ali Zardari at Zardari House here on Wednesday and announced to join Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
A13-member delegation headed by former MPA Khyber Pakhtunkha Assembly Skindar Irfan called on former President of Pakistan and President Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Asif Ali Zardari at Zardari House here on Wednesday and announced to join Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
#Pakistan - The rise of Bilawal Bhutto : Much more than a poster boy of Pakistan’s family-dominated politics
By Salman Zafar
In the midst of the political tussle between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been a distant observer for the large part. For a party with rock solid ideological roots, this is not a healthy sign. For a party that has historically been Pakistan’s most potent left-wing force at the federal level, this is even worse.
The PPP was outmuscled, outwitted and completely blown away in the 2013 General Election. Statistically, the PPP’s seat count in the National Assembly went down to 42 seats from the 118 it won in the 2008 General Election. This was, in no small part, down to PPP’s poor performance during its governance from 2008 to 2013.
As our political web unfolded following the 2013 election, the general feeling was that the PPP was redundant and dead as a political entity, with the elections functioning as one of the last nails in its coffin. The old guard had been put to shame, and the new one went unnoticed. As things stand currently, not a lot has changed. PPP seems to have little hope in the upcoming election, and sadly, it has been reduced to a regional party at best. However, a recent interview given by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to India Today has been a breath of fresh air. He touches on several important issues, such as terrorism and the army’s role in Pakistan, amongst others.
While still operating under the wings of his father, there is already a vibe about Bilawal that is a far cry from the political mudslinging that takes place in Pakistani politics these days. Neither PTI nor PML-N have someone like Bilawal in their ranks, and therein lies PPP’s advantage.
It is ironic that in the wake of the recent political instability in Pakistan, the youngest head of a political party in the country is the one making the most sense, and serving as our best international representative. Not only does he display political maturity that seems to be light years ahead of PML-N and PTI on local issues, his stance on foreign issues is equally impressive, from India to the United States.
However, despite his recent growth as a political force, Bilawal continues to face a barrage of criticism from Pakistan’s conservative circles. The criticism against him is based around the argument that he is too young and too immature to be taken seriously. This criticism is likely to continue in the future, but nonetheless it carries little weight. Age is not, and will never be, an accurate determinant of skill and ability. This is not to suggest that Bilawal has learnt everything there is to learn, of course, as he has only just entered the political arena. However, the signs are extremely encouraging in his favour.
Then there are those who will claim that he is the poster boy of family-dominated politics in Pakistan. We can beat that drum as much as we want, however, family politics is a reality in Pakistan and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Moreover, this is a phenomenon not limited to PPP alone. When all is said and done, political positions should be treated on the basis of merit and without any prejudice. Family politics or not, the right stance should be supported regardless of who it is coming from. Bilawal’s rise and PPP’s resurgence are interlinked. Despite PTI’s entrance in the 2013 General Election as the new force in Pakistani politics, PPP still remains the country’s most ideologically principled party. The party may be at its lowest ebb right now, but Bilawal offers an energy and maturity that is missing from both, PTI and PML-N. He also brings with him a massive political legacy, first built by his charismatic grandfather, and further honed by his indomitable mother.
There is obviously quite a lot of baggage, amid accusations of corruption levelled against his father and his party. Therefore, for a party that for the most part has remained progressive, Bilawal’s rise is extremely important. For a country where attempts at thwarting democratic forces are the norm, this is even more important.
One hopes that Bilawal’s rise continues the way it has done thus far. He will eventually need to be given a bigger role in the party than the one currently occupied by him – one where his father does not call all the shots – but the signs so far point towards the right direction. Not only does the PPP need Bilawal to rise, Pakistani politics needs Bilawal to break free from the shackles of the redundant power struggles that ultimately do more harm than good.
More power to him!
Will the new wine fit in the old bottle?
Whereas on one side, with the demise of Benazir Bhutto, the future of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became subject to a potential leadership vacuum, on the other the party has remained a victim of severe criticism aimed at its tenure of governance, whether at federal or provincial levels. The PPP faced a major setback in the general elections of 2013 amid the lack of public outreach due to unfavourable security conditions, barely winning over its stronghold of Sind province.
The winds of change, however, turned a new leaf for the PPP with the young chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, entering local politics, re-igniting the lost spark of Bhuttoism via engaging the public through large scale gatherings across the country. With much to learn, the amateur politician, despite being criticised for lack of political understanding and maneuvering, managed to make his mark, and impress many with his political acumen and finesse.
The recent World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 held at Davos in Switzerland, not to exaggerate, has unleashed Bilawal’s potential to emerge as future leader of Pakistan, and an option to the longing national demand of a young, and untested political figure to take over.
Sick and tired of the same old politicians, as the nation looks forward to a new face, Bilawal Bhutto certainly can prove to be a new wine for our old bottle of a political system
Bilawal’s visit to Davos, accompanied by the vice president of PPP, Senator Sherry Rehman, has made headlines, and is being viewed as a success, particularly in countering the international critique on Pakistan’s role with respect to terrorism, and effectively presenting the national narrative; something the government has been found lacking to do. The young Bhutto’s exhibition of confidence and balance while responding to questions and misconceptions regarding Pakistan at the WEF comes as a breath of fresh air, not just for the nation but also for willing, however reluctant, foreign investors. To impress the most was his nationalist stand for Pakistan alone, leaving behind all political and ideological differences.
The official delegation of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as opposed to the leaders of the opposing PPP, instead of being on the front foot remained under the carpets, and barely made any news headlines.
In his back to back busy schedule at Davos, Bilawal started off his visit with the BBC World Debate on the topic, the very real threats fake news and disinformation pose to democracies. The chairman PPP went on to attend a breakfast hosted by the Pathfinder Group for delegates from Pakistan and later on shed light on countering violent extremism in a session. Bilawal also attended the young global leaders’ dinner hosted by the president of World Economic Forum, Borge Brende, and the CEO of Jigsaw, Branden Cohen, where he had the opportunity to meet and interact with other high profile personalities including Haakun Magnus (crown prince of Norway), Jared Kushner, and Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah of Jordan.
Not to leave out the young Bhutto’s first ever interview on his last day at Davos with an Indian journalist from India Today that went viral over the social media where Bilawal vocally defended Pakistan’s military by saying; “It does not serve my purpose or my country’s purpose to criticise my armed forces when they’re fighting terrorists”. Bilawal also emphasised the significance of continued efforts to improve diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan. Relations must be between states, not two persons; he went on saying. He also criticised the Indian and US leaderships dictating Pakistan as it was not the right approach to build prospective relationships. “Despite hostilities on both sides and genuine complaints, ultimately the youth of both countries understand that the only solution is peace. We just have to figure out a way to get there”, stated Bilawal while referring particularly to Indo-Pak relations.
The PPP chairman’s visit to Davos, on one side where has portrayed Bilawal Bhutto as a potential future candidate for the country’s leadership, on the other will also have positively constructive political implications for the struggling PPP as it might fill up the party’s existing leadership vacuum, and revive the lost-legacy of Bhutto with Bilawal in the driving seat.
Sick and tired of the same old politicians, as the nation looks forward to a new face, Bilawal Bhutto certainly can prove to be a new wine for our old bottle of a political system. With a majority of the country’s population comprising youth, political parties driven by youth are most likely to win over in future elections; hence the focus of political parties on activating their youth political wings. After all, Imran Khan gained popularity on the basis of his youth driven politics. The old Khan, however, does not seem as fit to represent the youth as someone like Bilawal does.
Outdated and traditional approach to local politics is unlikely to get public acknowledgement in the long-term political future.
Bilawal Bhutto concerned over PTI leaders’ shielding and nexus with barbaric criminals in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
“It appears that PTI has become a party of several Ladlas ganged up together to protect and guard killers, murderers and even terrorists,” he stated.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that a local PTI leader who incited a mob for the barbaric murder of innocent student Mashal Khan has not been arrested even after nine months. Reports have also confirmed that nephew of PTI Kohat President and the identified killer of medical student Asma have fled to Saudi Arabia, which is not possible without collusion of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, he added. PPP Chairman pointed out that as per media reports the killers of Sharifaan Bibi and minor girl Asma were also being shielded by influential leaders of PTI in KP.
Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemned the criminal complicity of the ruling group’s leaders in such horrific crimes and the silence and laxity of their chief Ladla, who talks on everything under the sky minus what is happening under his nose. It seems that PTI has turned into ‘grand-mother’ of heinous crimes in KP, he added.