Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who was anointed the head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 2007, will now be holding the title of chief of the Zardari tribe.
The President House on Friday announced that according to tradition, after the death of Hakim Ali Zardari, who was the chief of the Zardari tribe, his son President Asif Ali Zardari was the rightful chief of his tribe. However, President Zardari decided to pass on the title to his son instead.
In her will, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto nominated her husband Asif Ali Zardari as her political successor in the party. President Zardari gave up the office of PPP chairperson and let Bilawal take charge instead.
President Zardari is looking after the party office as co-chairman till chairman Bilawal turns 23 and formally enters into politics after completing his education.
“His father, President Zardari has decided to forego the title of chief of the Zardari tribe and pass on the mantle of tribal leader to his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,” presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said in a statement issued to the media here.
According to the tribal tradition, Babar said, after the death of the tribal chief, his eldest son takes over as head of the tribe.
The transition to new tribal leadership is formalised in a customary gathering of the tribal elders called ‘Dastar Bandi’ which is held on or soon after the Soyem, the third day of prayers for the departed soul.
He said that the formal ceremony of ‘Dastar Bandi’, to herald Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the new tribal chief has, however, been put off till the time when the country’s overall condition becomes more conducive and when holding such tribal ceremonies does not appear insensitive.
“The president is sensitive to the sensibilities involved and has advised to withhold any customary tribal ceremonies that are also accompanied, at times, with a measure of fanfare,” Babar said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2011.