Can Bilawal revive the old PPP?

Published: December 1, 2012

The writer is director current affairs Express News and has previously worked with ARY News. He is a former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists

When a group of politicians met at Dr Mubashir Hasan’s Lahore residence in November 1967 to lay the foundation for the Pakistan Peoples party (PPP), no one thought that within 45 years, it would not only lose its chairman, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but all the Bhuttos. On the party’s 45th anniversary which was on November 30, its third generation is finding it quite challenging to lead the party in the 2013 general elections.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging was the beginning of the long tragedies for the Bhuttos. His eldest daughter, Benazir Bhutto, who led from the front in the struggle against martial law after her father’s death, was killed while on her way out of a public meeting days before the general elections, which observers said the PPP would have won. No political family in the world, other than the Gandhis and Kennedys, had seen such a series of political and personal tragedies. Now, the third generation of Bhuttos led by Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari may find it difficult to meet the challenge of leading the party in the forthcoming general elections.

Bilawal Bhutto was born when his mother was in a struggle against then military dictator in 1988. He did not have enough time to learn politics from his mother who often kept him away from mainstream politics to focus on his studies. Unlike Benazir, who had seen the best and worst of her father when she was mature enough to understand politics, Bilawal was, unfortunately, unable to learn much from his mother about politics and political struggle. Additionally, Benazir was lucky that her father was never accused of corruption, something which Bilawal may find difficult to defend when questions are asked about the practices of his father, President Asif Ali Zardari. But, at least, he may be able to defend his father in proving his critics wrong by finishing a full term and leading the party to complete its five-year rule.

Unlike Bilawal’s father, Benazir was often on the defensive when the question of political persecution against the political opponents came. But she had learnt from her father’s political mistakes. On the other hand, Bilawal has little to offer to the people. His party’s performance in full tenure could neither deliver economically nor check the massive corruption within. The party also failed to protect the lives of common men. Had they been able to check the price hike, he would have something to ask people in return.

Unlike his mother, Bilawal has the heavy excess baggage of his father, President Zardari — Pakistan‘s most controversial political leader. The PPP will be unlucky in the coming elections as neither the co-chairman nor the chairman, not even any other of Benazir’s children will be able to take part in the election campaign.

The PPP did not win the 1970 elections but emerged as the single largest party in then West Pakistan — something unprecedented for a party formed only three years earlier. All this was possible because of Bhutto’s charming personality and the programme. The party, which has won most of the country’s general elections since 1970, may face its most difficult challenge in the 2013 elections as they go into the polls without the vibrant voice of a Bhutto leading the party. Can Bilawal accept this challenge, reunite the old party, revisit the old party programme, eradicate corruption within the party and face the people with courage?

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2012.

Reader Comments (34)

  • sabi
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Very difficult ppp now justifies to sit on opposit benches in tiny majority.

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  • Uqaab
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:27AM

    I think and I hope not.

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  • kanwal
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:34AM

    @author
    This dynasty politics must end now. For the sake of education, he stayed away? Well, he knows more about Oxford and Dubai than Lyari and Larkana and karachi or any other part of this country for that matter. He better go back where he belongs. Bhutto senior kept away his children for education and we are now paying the prices of Benazair’ Harvard and Oxford education dearly. We need people who belong here and are product of THIS land, and shown that they can achieve things here and God know we have too many so we dont need imported mummy daddy kidos thinking they have a right to lead us bcoz of mommy and grandpa and of course dear daddy. Period. Recommend

  • Moeen@iiui
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:42AM

    great writing sir. BBZ is nothing more but an imported suitcase with foreign mindset having imprinted brain who cant differentiate between rich and poor because a man born with with a golden spoon cant understand the miseries of poor’s..our nation also dont need development we just need entertainment in the name of politics or democracy..Recommend

  • 3footninja
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:44AM

    the answer is so blatantly obvious that it doesn’t even merit wasting the title of an article on…

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  • F Khan
    Dec 1, 2012 - 1:09AM

    @ Author:
    I can answer the title of the write up in just one word “Impossible”.

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  • Liberal Sindhi
    Dec 1, 2012 - 1:47AM

    PPP will lose votes unless it goes back to its left-wing secular fan base. No other national party (ignoring ethnicity based parties like MQM or ANP) is center-left in ideology.

    For right-wing we have many choices like PML-N, PTI and MMA.

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  • Hataf
    Dec 1, 2012 - 2:04AM

    Time will Tell, He is the best hope we have! He is the hope that Bhutto Dynasty Has He is the Hope The PPP has.

    He Has to, He Has NO CHOICE!

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  • Kaashaan
    Dec 1, 2012 - 2:07AM

    I hope PPP doesn’t rule Pakistan again. The damage done to this country in last 5 years is more massive than all the corruption of last 20 years combined. Our rupee went down to a point where US Dollar is 95rs now from 60rs a few ago. The Law and order situation is worst in Karachi. There are big corruption scandals in PIA, Pakistan Steel mills and tons of other government ministries. Parchi system has put illiterate schmucks as chairmen of big national assets. Our president does party meetings in president house (when he is supposed to consider Pakistan first). The only few times he comes and speaks to media is when he has to brag and thump his chest for the ‘sacrifices’ his party did in the past.

    The president didnt say a word and didnt come on media on several very severe incidents like the Factory Fire in karachi, or the dozens of target killings in karachi. (When a dutiful president like Obama comes on tv for smaller incidents like the theatre shooting in the US a few months ago).

    Now we will have his son as the prime minister or president? A son who studied all his life on pakistani tax payer money in the UK? A son who is too distant from the problems of common man of Pakistan. No thanks PPP. Leave Pakistanis alone.

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  • Mirza
    Dec 1, 2012 - 2:33AM

    The title is rather funny. PPP is the ruling party and first time in the history of Pakistan is completing its 5 years tenure. In addition it has won several by-elections from various parts of Pakistan including the heartland in Punjab.
    ZAB, and BB were very good leaders and speakers but neither of them could complete their elected terms of five years. Zardari is a real Pakistani politician who knows how to play the game of politics that both ZAB and BB missed. The secular coalition of ANP, PPP and MQM would win the elections again and again. Not because they have made achievements but there is no other national party or leader. Before each election we hear that PPP would lose but in each fair election it has always been PPP which wins the majority and comes out as national party. PPP has always contested elections all alone in the past vs. big alliances of rightwing parties. But zero plus zero plus zero has always been zero. The election or selection of NS has been due to ISI and army generals not fair and square.

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  • gp65
    Dec 1, 2012 - 3:27AM

    @kanwal: We in India share your pain for we have our own Amul Baby.

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  • Pro Truth
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:43AM

    and i thought writer is quite good analyst, why he is supporting this idea of dynastic politics, didnt we suffered enough already because of this dynasto-cracy? This is not democracy its only a revenge!

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  • Sindhi_Pakistani
    Dec 1, 2012 - 6:18AM

    Sindh gave land slide victory to PPP in last general elections but what did Sindh get in return..? Only used as card when PPP needs it. In last five years, PPP led allied Govt gave poor governance, worst law & order, corruption, nepotism, failing to rehabilitate flood victims, poor social development works,last but not least black bill SPLG. People of Sindh cant be fooled any more in the name of PPP and Bhuttos. Because PPP has proved to be a big disappointment for people of Sindh, who thought that after long rule of Mushraf Junta, All anti Mushraf policies will be shunned. But PPP took on board same Pro-Mushraf parties to rule Govt. For the sake of power, PPP Govt went to any length and even rights of Sindhi people were not protected at all.

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  • Taimoor
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:06AM

    @Hataf:
    So you’re the ignorant of Pakistan always wondered who in their right mind would vote for these idiots but you have proven me wrong. I hope you find out one day how democracies work.

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  • Asad
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:42AM

    Yes as soon as he can learn to properly pronounce his family name.

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  • Hataf
    Dec 1, 2012 - 10:03AM

    @Taimoor how do democracies work? By wooing and entering into alliances with Taliban or Laskhar Jhangvi. Pakistan needs a liberal leader a secular Pakistan is what we should ask for. And democracy works by one man one vote if the majority votes for Ppp why on earth are u so jealous. I will vote for bilawal not bec of ppp but bec of its secular identity which pakistan really needs.

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  • F
    Dec 1, 2012 - 11:52AM

    Does he speak any language of Pakistan fluently? Can he relate to Pakistanis? Don’t worry of your answer is in the negative. Just take a few lessons from the Gandhi clan. Look at Rahul and his Italian mom. If they can do it, surely Bilawal can. The “last great hope” of Pakistan!

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  • kashif
    Dec 1, 2012 - 12:15PM

    Who is bilawal? What are his credentials other than being born in a particular family? Why are we even discussing him. Is this the twenty first century?

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  • Taj
    Dec 1, 2012 - 3:17PM

    I hope Bilawal will follow footsteps of her great mother and bring back old PPP, champion of poor people and will fight with the extremists. At this moment too he has spoken clearly in favor of Malala and against Taliban. It seems he is as brave as her
    Mother. But he should not take active participation in next election campaign because he must be at hit list of Taliban and we can not afford to loose him. He is the only hope for this country to unite it against the terrorists. Even if he has no chance in Punjab or other provinces, Sindh will Never let him down and will support him as much as it did her great and courageous mother despite all the wrongdoings Sindh has faced during current corrupt and incompetent PPP government.

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  • Parvez
    Dec 1, 2012 - 3:39PM

    The straight answer to your question is a simple : No, the reason being that Bilawal is completely unknown and his ties to Pakistan are superficial but that will not stop Bilawal being used by the party.
    For Bilawal, as a person, to succeed he has to clean out the Augean Stables of his party, a task too daunting for him.
    Every time the PPP has come to power it has always been after either a catastrophe and / or martial law rule has befallen the nation, that is history…………….what government we see now has been termed by many as a catastrophe and if history proves again to be right, it would be irony of the highest order.

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  • K B Kale
    Dec 1, 2012 - 4:58PM

    @GP65
    Bravo! Our Amul Baby? Bravo, again!
    But the real Amul Baby puts a smile on every Indian face with its billboards. But the boy you called “Amul Baby” puts a frown on our forehead. This “kal ka chhokaraa” as Nitish Kumar called him, has achieved great election ‘victories’ in Bihar (just a few single-digit number of seats) & UP (some 40-odd seats) but his ‘chamchas’ in the party led by Pagvijay Singh rushed to take the ‘responsibility’ for both debacles.
    Amul Baby? On the Bull’s Eye, madam!

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  • K B Kale
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:03PM

    @GP65
    Bravo! Our Amul Baby? Bravo, again!
    But the real Amul Baby puts a smile on every Indian face with its billboards. But the boy you called “Amul Baby” puts a frown on our forehead. This “kal ka chhokaraa” as Nitish Kumar called him, has achieved great election ‘victories’ in Bihar (just a few single-digit number of seats) & UP (some 40-odd seats) but his ‘chamchas’ in the party led by Pagvijay Singh rushed to take the ‘responsibility’ for both debacles.
    Amul Baby? On the Bull’s Eye, madam!

    Recommend

  • MAD
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:24PM

    His name is not Bilawal Bhutto but Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. he is the current chief of the Zardari tribe. please never forget that. You guys are pretending that he is not who he is.

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  • Tch tch
    Dec 1, 2012 - 5:53PM

    @Liberal Sindhi:
    PPP was never left wing it was just feudal landowners fight back against industrialist who became powerful in Ayub era.

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  • Liberal Sindhi
    Dec 1, 2012 - 6:14PM

    @Tch tch:

    Tsk Tsk…. you are a newbie at this. Go read the history of PPP. They have always been left-wing. You should read articles of Nadeem F. Paracha to get better idea of history of Pakistan.

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  • Dec 1, 2012 - 7:21PM

    Why the author want Bilawal to assume the role of leader.? Dynasties have unfortunately made inroad in democratic setup too . like all other fields it is the merit to lead should be the only criteria and not the heir of big leader. .
    Every where chamchas exist . Political parties must inculcate/ follow honestly democratic values within the party too which appears to be a distant dream in India as well as Pakistan.

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  • Muhammad
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:49PM

    Bilawal is just a spoiled child

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  • Muhammad
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:51PM

    @Kaashaan:
    You took the words out of my mouth

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  • Muhammad
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Pakistan needs to be a secular country again as Jinnah envisioned it to be. Look I’m Muslim and I love Allah but Pakistan isn’t working as an Islamic Republic because corrupt politicians are using my Allah, our Allah, as ways for treating women, religious and ethnic minorities badly.

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  • Muhammad
    Dec 1, 2012 - 8:59PM

    @F:
    I agree but Bilawal isn’t capable of all of that.

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  • Dec 1, 2012 - 9:27PM

    @Tch tch:
    @Liberal Sindhi:
    “PPP was never left wing it was just feudal landowners fight back against industrialist who became powerful in Ayub era.”

    .
    Their objective has been to contain any revolutionary change or revolution itself. Who would like to ruffle feathers of the Western Powers? BB ran to Washington to become “Daughter of the West” and get to power exactly as her Dad had done a few decades earlier.
    .
    Nationalists’ have the propensity to become as blind as anyone ever can. Has it never occurred to you, as pointed out by @TchTch: that it was a party set up by the landowning (Sindhis) to begin with, who obtained the support of street level over romaticised-left, under the garb of Islamic Socialism. The so-called leftists if they could survive the squeeze were either sent home or to the slammer. Enough damage has been done already by the pseudo Islamic Socialism of PPP.
    .
    Either you drop the prefix Liberal or replace it with “Nationalist”.

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  • Dec 1, 2012 - 9:35PM

    @Parvez:
    .
    “…Every time the PPP has come to power it has always been after either a catastrophe and / or martial law rule has befallen the nation…”
    .
    Aren’t we ignoring another important stratagem used, probably finding in bad taste to even mention, the deA

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  • Dec 1, 2012 - 9:37PM

    @Parvez:
    .
    “…Every time the PPP has come to power it has always been after either a catastrophe and / or martial law rule has befallen the nation…”
    .
    Aren’t we ignoring another important stratagem used, probably finding in bad taste even to mention, the dragging dead bodies-

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  • sattar rind
    Dec 30, 2012 - 3:24AM

    hopefully yes…

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