LAHORE- The long-awaited cat is out of the bag.
PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will contest by-election on two National Assembly seats from Sindh and become part of the present parliament.
This was the ‘good news’ and the ‘message of hope’ that the former president had promised to the nation after returning from the 18-month self-imposed exile, the announcement for which was made by him yesterday while addressing a gathering at the 9th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto.
The father and the son enumerated a number of problems the PML-N government failed to resolve under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before making public the ‘panacea’ for all of them.
Their complaints included the failure of the government to meet Bilawal’s four demands a few weeks ago, which the government had refused to yield to knowing well that the ‘dying party’ will not be in a position to create any problem.
The PPP chairman and co-chairman will get elected to the National Assembly from two Sindh seats (as that is the only province where the PPP still has some following). Bilawal will be a candidate from NA-204 (where the incumbent MNA is Ayaz Soomro) and Asif Zardari from NA-207.
Obviously, Ayaz Soomro and the incumbent of the other NA seat will be asked to resign from her NA seat. And once the father and the son reach the legislature, Syed Khursheed Shah will vacate the opposition leader’s seat for Bilawal.
The move has various implications.
One is that notwithstanding its earlier assertions, the PPP is not going to mount pressure on the government for early elections. This means the NA will complete its mandated constitutional term of five years. Otherwise there is no sense in the PPP chairman and co-chairman joining the bandwagon.
This also shows that Bilawal’s rhetoric that Mian Sahib’s days have been numbered actually means 365x5=1,825 days. (Of them the PML-N government has already completed three years and a half and the remaining term will be completed with the father and the son as part of the assembly).
The prime minister, under the Constitution, has the power to dissolve the assembly and go for early elections. But now when his so-called staunch opponents are going to join the NA, there will be no need for him to take any such step.
After becoming MNAs, the father and the son will be at par with the PML-N leadership.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has his nephew Hamza in the National Assembly. In addition, his son-in-law Capt Safdar and daughter’s father-in-law Finance Minister Ishaq Dar are also there). The Punjab setup is also in the hands of Sharifs.
With Faryal Talpur, Aseefa and Bakhtawar looking after the Sindh affairs, the Zardaris will also be second to none.
It is, however, not clear what Ayaz Soomro and Khursheed Shah are unable to do which Zardari and Bilawal will do after joining the legislature.
(Zardari will be the second former president to become an ordinary MNA. Earlier, Sardar Farooq Leghari had also become MNA after staying as the president of the country, the highest constitutional office. And since his sons also could not stay out of power, they joined the PML-N, the party whose government had been dismissed by Leghari before being forced to quit the office).
Bilawal has given no future course of action in his speech. The mere announcement that he would start a political long march and visit all provinces means nothing.
There is no ban on political activities in the country and like anybody else he can go anywhere at any time.
His visits are aimed at his personal aggrandizement, not the solution of any public problem.
Bilawal’s slogans “Gali, gali mein shor hai, Nawaz Sharif chor hai” should have been more embarrassing for his father. While the writer is for ruthless accountability of all corrupt elements without any exception, Zardari Sahib was called Mr “Ten per cent”.
The ‘honour’ was bestowed on Zardari Sahib by none other than Sheikh Rashid, the man who also called the PPP chairman “Billo Rani”.
The scandals of the PML-N government must be investigated. But just to remind the PPP chairman the Asghar Khan case was not investigated because of the then PPP government’s reluctance.
The PPP was in power when the Supreme Court had ordered the FIA to probe it. However, the then information minister said at a news conference that the PPP government would not like to drag the former prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) into courts.