Bilawal Bhutto’s entry: A new era for PPP?

Published: December 27, 2012

Will Bilawal clash with his father? Will the party change or remain essentially the same? PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A vast political legacy in the past, a complicated presidential term for his father in the present and a high-pressure general election in the near future – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s official debut on December 27, 2012 contains all the elements of a thrilling political saga.

Bilawal’s entry into mainstream politics is being closely observed and has received mixed reactions from journalists, analysts and experts.

Senior journalist Quatrina Hussain is a vehement critic of dynasty politics but acknowledges that in South Asia, it is part of the package.

“Even if he isn’t ready, he doesn’t have a choice. If you are born a Bhutto or a Gandhi, you don’t have a choice,” she says. She adds that despite his grooming by both parents, Bilawal still has a steep learning curve ahead of him.

Veteran journalist and executive editor for The Express Tribune, Mohammed Ziauddin also shares the same opinion. He states that Bilawal’s entry is reminiscent of sub continental tradition, as most Indian states in the north and south are still ruled by the same families, generation after generation.

While Bilawal appears to be well educated, he is still an “unknown entity” Ziauddin  emphasizes, and therefore little is known or can be predicted about his understanding of complex political nuances.

Senior journalist Kamran Shafi also feels that it is too soon to predict the changes it might bring within the PPP. However, he praised Bilawal’s strong and clear stance against terrorism.

“He seems intelligent, aware and brave enough to ‘call a spade a spade’, which is always a welcome change,” says Shafi.

With Bilawal’s launch, the Bhutto name will reclaim its position at the PPP forefront, which has been acknowledged as critical by all the experts.

“It is a political party that runs on Bhutto’s name,” said Shafi.

Hussain also feels that Bilawal’s entry might also smooth things for President Zardari, who has been facing pressure by the Supreme Court to retain only one position, either as president of Pakistan, or PPP co-chairman.

“It will shift the pressure away from Mr Zardari to President Zardari. With Bilawal’s formal introduction, major party affairs and decisions will be conducted by Bilawal but still be backed by Zardari,” she says, emphasizing Zardari’s central role in the party despite a shift of reins.

Shafi also agrees that Bilawal’s entry will have no major impact on Zardari’s standing within the party.

“People look at him as Benazir’s widower, or the First Man, but they tend to forget that he has always been a politician in his own right and will stay there,” he says.

However, Ziauddin feels that there might be potential personality clashes between father and son whose disposition and up bringing are worlds apart.

While Bilawal is an Oxford graduate, strictly groomed by his mother for the most part of his life, President Zardari is not highly educated and has always been a free spirit and street smart as far as politics is concerned.

“Power has always created problems, even in blood relations. There is a huge generation gap and both of them will go through a long sailing, which will not be an easy process,” he predicts.

While Yousuf Raza Gilani is being cited as a favorite for Zardari’s replacement as PPP co-chairperson, Hussain predicts that Bilawal might soon become the sole chairperson for the party.

While all these predictions will have to bear the test of time, one thing can be said with utmost certainty – the world will be watching very closely as this young political novice assumes a central position in one of the oldest and largest political parties in the country.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Khan Sawbi
    Dec 27, 2012 - 5:53PM

    BB kept her native SINDH stay in darkness of jahalyat…Her legacy? Bilawal… Is that it? Now go on and read Mandela biography to know what leaders really ought to be!

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  • Dec 27, 2012 - 6:00PM

    Only if Bilawal feels the pain of mothers who lost their son in terrorism.

    Only if Bilawal knew how it feels like to run for bread and butter

    Only if Bilawal knew how agonizing it is to have your valid work done by a government office.

    Only if Bilalwal knew how hard it is to spend time without electricity

    Only if Bilawal knew how much courage it takes to be in CNG queue.

    When the king sent his heir to wise man to learn wisdom, the wise man sent him to jungle for years, the baby boy returned, wise man asked, what did you hear there?, the boy replied, I heard the chirp of birds, cacophony of wild animals, wiseman again sent him to the jungle.

    The boy returned after years, the wise man asked the same question, this time boy replied.

    I deciphered the message in winds, I heard the songs of sun rays, I decoded what leaves wavered. The man replied, Now you are eligible to rule the nation as you are a leader who can hear what is in heart of your nation. – Chinese Wisdom.

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  • ishiPTI
    Dec 27, 2012 - 6:07PM

    Sorry baby Bhutto, there’s no space for you, we already have our Leader Imran Khan.Recommend

  • 3footninja
    Dec 27, 2012 - 6:12PM

    new era?!? sure… just wait for the 2013 elections to come.Recommend

  • salman k
    Dec 27, 2012 - 6:17PM

    this is not 90′s youth of today hates dynasty politics….

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  • Muhammad Hasnain Gilani
    Dec 27, 2012 - 6:23PM

    It is good Mr.Jinnah did not have a son and his daughter did not opt for Poliitcs rather she stayed away from Pakistan. Otherwise there would have been an other political dynasty in sub-continent “Jinnah Dynesty”.

    A Peshawary

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  • Hairan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 6:26PM

    Nothing is going to change. Rather things are going from bad to worse in this dynasty hit country.

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  • Asad
    Dec 27, 2012 - 7:03PM

    Pakistan’s very own Kim Jong un while Kim had held various party position before being propped into the position of party head PPP has out matched north koreans in this regard by launching bilawajha bhutto.

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  • Choco Fied
    Dec 27, 2012 - 7:07PM

    Democracy in Pakistan, it would appear is a carefully crafted illusion (delusion.)Recommend

  • Khalq e Khuda
    Dec 27, 2012 - 7:12PM

    After desparately trying to create an aura of a Zardari-Gilani clash, mass disintegration of PPP and fall of the government our media starts predicting a Bilawal-Zardari clash? How many times would these predictions have to go wrong before you learn your lesson which btw might not affect PPP but does take its toll on investor confidence.

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  • kashif
    Dec 27, 2012 - 7:18PM

    Who is Bilawal? What are his credentials .Recommend

  • Dec 27, 2012 - 7:38PM

    Why cant i be the chairperson of PPP ???

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  • Ibrahim Nadir
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Let me kiss yet another frog to find the one trusted guy who will save Pakistan one day!Recommend

  • Z.Khan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:15PM

    Though experience does play role in politics but if some one is born and groomed in political family/atmosphere you can expect good performance from his/her even at very young age. He is well educated and if turns his attention to learn current political situation in developed, developing and under developed countries, it can facilitate over come his shortcomings of practical experience. Except for certain notorious and corrupt countries in which Pakistan is also included, politics is considered a very noble profession provided it is professed with in tight compartments of ethical rules and regulations. In Western countries, where he also got his education, politicians do follow the rules of fair game. Implementation of honesty, fairness with all, good governance and absolute justice are key factors for a successful statesman and form the very beginning if he could inculcate these golden traits in his personality a bright future will embrace him with dignity and honour. If possible should convince his cousin Ms Fatima Bhutto also now to join the politics. She is also a valuable asset of Bhutto Dynasty.
    PS: ET web staff to check the server as is declining to accept the comments on the pretext of quick posting while this is my first comment in last 24 hours.

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  • Muhammad Ahsan KHAN
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:19PM

    “However, he praised Bilawal’s strong and clear stance against terrorism.”

    “He seems intelligent, aware and brave enough to ‘call a spade a spade’, which is always a welcome change,” .

    ?????????????????????????????????????????????

    Any polittician’s calling “spade a spade” is simply a political need and call. There is no bravery involved nor any extra integence needed.

    Bilawal’s grand father claimed to be a secular leader but changed Pakistan into an ISLAMIC (religious) State. He also claimed to provide poor Pakistanis “roTy, kapRA and makAn”. What is the outcome of this promise?
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  • Mirza
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:28PM

    Some people had no problem Gen Mush having the office of army chief, president and head of his own political party at the same time while a paid govt servant. They have problem with Zardari having dual office. Now they should be happy that Zardari would not have two offices but they would still find reasons not to be satisfied.
    Those talking dynastic politics should know that BB or Bilawal did not come into politics. Their parent’s death forced them into politics. They were just student when their parents were eliminated by fascists. Yet these opponents of dynastic politics forget that most of the other leaders are lifetime and there is no change in sight of the leadership of ANP, PTI, PML-N or F, or Q and the list goes on and on. So from Asghar Khan to Imran Khan they can be the chief of their party for life which is fine and fair for them but not for the others.

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  • Azher
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:39PM

    Let give him chance because Pakistan is now at turning point.. we no more want old tired leaders like Nawaz, Altaf BHAI shb and Mr. Pathan, and also other meow meow leaders…Why we give nawaz and others another chance?

    Nawaz who thinks Pakistan especially is his father’s property..
    Altaf Bhai…. ” Bhai is bhai….well his approach is not at Pakistan level but he is limited to karachi-
    Imran who’s slogan is “Our party has new faces who’s faces are washed with holy water, but in real all are old player of politics and corrupt who actually intend and always intended to do some thing for Pakistan, but practically they didn’t do any thing for Pakistan ”

    Let me clear you, I don’t support Mr.Zardari…but I think our nation should support Bilawal.Recommend

  • Shanzay Khan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:39PM

    God help us, I wish these family system politicians leave Pakistan alone.Recommend

  • Azher
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:40PM

    Let give him chance because Pakistan is now at turning point.. we no more want old tired leaders like Nawaz, Altaf BHAI shb and Mr. Pathan, and also other meow meow leaders…Why we give nawaz and others another chance?

    Nawaz who thinks Pakistan especially is his father’s property..
    Altaf Bhai…. ” Bhai is bhai….well his approach is not at Pakistan level but he is limited to karachi- and We all know Karachi is not city but it is ocean of blood and only because of Mr.London and he always sits in Government”
    Imran who’s slogan is “Our party has new faces who’s faces are washed with holy water, but in real all are old player of politics and corrupt who actually intend and always intended to do some thing for Pakistan, but practically they didn’t do any thing for Pakistan ”

    Let me clear you, I don’t support Mr 10% i.e. Mr.Zardari…but I think our nation should support Bilawal

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  • muhammad
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:41PM

    Educated Fascism goes unabated, created all by children of Zia.
    Bilawal has all the potential of becoming a leader in his own self!

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  • roadkashehzada
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:49PM

    first thing bilawal should do is, call Kim Jong un

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  • Abrar R
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:50PM

    The kind of Urdu Accent he has .. he will only provide fun. He is unfit to campaign.

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  • Vampire
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:58PM

    Last Bhutto standing…

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  • Choco Fied
    Dec 27, 2012 - 8:59PM

    ET: Please post this comment.
    Bilawal’s entry into active politics is another example of another feudal entering the fray. Democracy in Pakistan is government of the feudal, by the feudal, for the feudal!!!

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  • ZMAM
    Dec 27, 2012 - 9:19PM

    When we will learn that’s the point. What do you expect the only Bilawal will change the country he will hold the office of President or PM but what about the lower levels the senate the parliament. These offices will be held by the same personnel’s who are in Office right now. The country will not change by this.

    We need new people at the grass root levels. Not new leaders with same propaganda.

    New Rules
    New Governance

    The same issue is Corruption with this Great Country of Ours.

    If nothing is changed the people will Flee or there will be a Great Revolution.

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  • Ali
    Dec 27, 2012 - 9:57PM

    Clash you say?? Sure, perhaps Mr. Bilawal will want 20% rather instead of the tradition set by his father of 10%. Why is their even the expectation of leadership, let alone an entire article hoping that their could be some rare chance of leadership from someone like Bilawal. Do we not know by now the leadership offered by senior Zardari? Do we not know that the entire country is on the precipice of disaster in every way possible under the senior rule, and yet believe that the little boy who is ignorant enough to accept this role, while not having performed an iota of civil service can lead us out of this? Do we really believe that the bhutto’s / zardari’s/ the sharif’s included stand any chance of not being the sole cause of more corruption, killing and loot maar in 2013??? IF the answer is YES to any of the above, then perhaps we do deserve Bilawal. Jiyay Bhutto!

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  • Hamid Hassan Khan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 10:14PM

    Bilawal's entry into mainstream politics is well in time. He is well Educated and belongs to the family of Shuhadas. In 1979 at the time of Judicial Murder of Z.A.Bhutto, ..Shaheed Benazir was only 26 but at the time of Shahadat of Benazir Bhutto, her son Bilawal was only 19... Backgrounds of Entry in Politics for both Mother and Son are same... we welcome Mr.Bilawal BZ in Pakistani Politics and pray for his success....
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  • Fahad Raza
    Dec 27, 2012 - 10:33PM

    BB ka Baby from London to larkana..

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  • Dec 27, 2012 - 10:43PM

    @mirza .. can you just tell me .. why Cant i be the chairperson of PPP ??

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  • Mirza
    Dec 27, 2012 - 11:12PM

    @Ovais: “can you just tell me .. why Cant i be the chairperson of PPP ??”
    You cannot be the chairperson of PPP just like you cannot be the chief of PTI as long as IK is alive. You cannot be the chairperson as long as JUI’s Fazal is alive, ANP’s Wali Khan is alive, PML’s Sharif is alive and has family, Pir Pagara is alive and you get the message! We have lifteime party chiefs and that is what we have.
    Regards,
    MirzaRecommend

  • socko
    Dec 27, 2012 - 11:38PM

    @Z Khan… PS: ET web staff to check
    the server as is declining to accept
    the comments on the pretext of quick
    posting while this is my first comment
    in last 24 hours.

    The reason is because of the url getting updated when you post one comment.. If u observe he change in url in addressbar, when you are posting a comment, you wd see it change to http://tribune.com.pk/story/xxxxxx/title-of-the-page/#comment-YYYYYYY
    where “yyyyyyy” is the comment id…

    the workaround is to change the url in the address bar manually to the format as below:
    http://tribune.com.pk/story/xxxxxx/title-of-the-page/ (i.e., without the comment id).. this will make sure that the server wont know you are posti9ng the second comment… and you fool the server…. lol

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 27, 2012 - 11:45PM

    @Ovais:
    Reply given by Mirza is very good. Have a small story of village where menial and higher cast people used to live. One day Numberdar (chief of village from higher cast) passed away. A son belonging to menial cast asked his father , papa who will be next chief of village? The son of deceased chief, replied the father. And when he dies who will be next chief? Asked the curious son. The grand son, replied the father. Who will follow him if he also dies, the son asked once again. Father got fed up and told him, my son even the whole village passes away no chance for you to become chief of village because you come from a menial cast. Hope now you will be satisfied about the presence of inherited trend in Pakistani politics.

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  • yajsingh
    Dec 28, 2012 - 12:40AM

    oh dear! another youth icon in the making….or ?
    We’ve got one in India as well and the best part about him is his VANISHING act…

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  • Dec 28, 2012 - 1:07AM

    He is just a kid. His date of birth is September 21st 1988. So he is 24yrs old. To hold the office you have to be 25yrs old. So he can not participate in any election

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  • Avatar
    Dec 28, 2012 - 2:40AM

    PPP zindabad and Bilawal Zindabad, I will vote for PPP and yes he will change Pakistan for the better. He can outclass IK or Nawaz anyday. Jiye bhutto!

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  • A2Z
    Dec 28, 2012 - 2:44AM

    @Azher.,,Nobody is supporting Zardari but questioning the credentials of Bilawal and issue of dynastic politics in Pakistan.
    If IK has old faces then on whose shoulders Bilawal will ride? Will he bring all the new faces in his party? I am sure not then it is better to support IK who has shown his zeal and love for Pakistan by not taking everything but giving everything to Pakistan.

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  • Dec 28, 2012 - 3:12AM

    @Khan Sawbi:
    You are right. Zardari should open Benazir Bhutto’s residence in Dubai, UAE to public , to show what kind of life she was living.

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  • omar
    Dec 28, 2012 - 9:24AM

    I agree the Electoral process needs to be fixed, By running the same broken machine we will not be able to fix it. The Electoral process should mandate that what each party is bringing to contribute for Pakistan. There should be a quota of party to bring in and support educated as representative candidates and financially supported by the party. The Parties should put forth the mandate of their Economic,development Agenda, and vision

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  • Z.Khan
    Dec 28, 2012 - 3:42PM

    @socko:
    Not understood iota of what you said. May be am computer dumb. Never happened before just happening form last couple of days.

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  • KULWANT SINGH
    Dec 28, 2012 - 4:59PM

    In india Gandhis and in Pakistan Bhuttos Recommend

  • Haroon Haq
    Dec 29, 2012 - 10:54AM

    Listen to the problems of the poor people, they will enrich you with all the necessary knowledge you need to rule the country Inshaa Allah.

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  • Feb 13, 2013 - 10:03PM

    @KULWANT SINGH:
    It is just bcaz personality plays an important role in politics of developing countries in south asian countries.

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