Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is not alive, but his magic certainly is – even four decades after him. Garhi Khuda Bukhsh was as lively as ever on ZAB’s 40th death anniversary. The droves of fervent PPP supporters and symapthisers pouring into the PPP founder’s burial site is a testament that his political charm still works. Sky-rocketing chants of ‘Jeay Bhutto’ by Jiyalas filled the air far and wide with their vast reverberations. No wonder April 4 still serves as a source of strength for PPP leaders. The crowd and the noise at the Bhutto’s final resting place this year provided a timely opportunity for Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – currently stuck in what they call politically-motivated cases – to fire warning shots at the government.
In their speeches at the annual rites, the PPP’s chairman and co-chairman warned the ruling PTI against attempts to repeal the 18th amendment to the Constitution – that allows for provincial autonomy while clipping the Centre’s powers – alongside telling the people to be prepared for a call to hit the streets in protest against the incumbent government so as to snatch their rights themselves. The two leaders also exploited the “immature” handling of the economy by the government, warning the people that the tsunami of inflation that has already hit them is only going to worsen in the coming days.
Zardari and Bilawal have put their supporters on a stand-by in what is described by their political opponents as a threatening tool to better fight their corruption cases. To those in the government, the anti-government stance of the top PPP leaders is a ploy to misguide the people of Sindh, in particular, into believing that they are being targeted in the name of accountability just because of their “fault” of speaking for the constitutional rights of provinces.
The criticism and the allegations are not just unfounded. That the PPP – a party that has been elected to rule the country for five times in more than half a century of its existence – has now been confined to Sindh only is hardly debatable, and speaks of its poor performance. April 4 must, therefore, be a reminder for Bilawal that he is expected to prove himself to be a true torch-bearer of the Bhutto’s legacy.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2019.
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