ISLAMABAD - Senior Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) leaders are in a quandary whether to obey their party's chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari or co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on national issues and on many occasions they have to serve the two masters at the same time.
Seasoned PPP leaders are of the view that although apparently Chairman Bilawal is in the driving seat yet they have to prostrate before the other – more influential former president – as well to avert inviting his wrath.
"The situation has reached to a point that we cannot meet Bilawal or Zardari alone. We have to take the blessings of both figures on any issue," a senior PPP leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confided to The Nation.
From restructuring of the provincial chapter of the party to contesting by-polls or local bodies (LB) polls, PPP leaders have to take nods of both the party bosses and ignoring any of the two may even result in the end of political future of a party leader.
While PPP's KP chapter president Khanzada Khan and general-secretary Humayun Khan were feeling proud of getting nod of Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for reorganising the party in the province, Zardari's telephonic address to a gathering led by PPP Nowshera president Tariq Khattak stunned Peshawar chapter leaders who had also arranged a similar gathering.
PPP women wing in KP too is divided between two groups – one led by Asma Alamgir and the other by Shazia Aurangzeb – at a time when Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur is central chairman of women, youth and student wings of the party.
"We want Bilawal to contest election and make it to National Assembly. Many senior party leaders wanted Bilawal in place of Khurshid Shah as Opposition Leader in the lower house," a party member said.
PPP leader and former Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman, according to a party source, had been requested to train Bilawal in the capacity of his adviser but she declined. "I think she (Sherry) knew that Bilawal is toothless in front of his father. Moreover, a decision by Zardari on any issue does not mean Bilawal has the same views," the insider said.
where his mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi
PPP Punjab chapter has been awaiting the arrival of Bilawal for boosting the party in the province, however, party leaders are now confused over his failure to the visit the province.
"We want Bilawal to play his active role so that we could talk to him one-on-one. The excuse that his life is in danger makes sense but it should not confine him to Bilawal House. He must come out to see what is actually happening in the PPP," a senior party leader from southern Punjab remarked.
Informed sources said there was growing resentment in party ranks over the issuance of arrest warrants for former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as they believe that party’s top leadership was not vociferously defended him in these hard times.
"Except for Amin Fahim, who belongs to Sindh, the PPP leadership in Punjab has been singled out and it is being framed in corruption cases. Bilawal also knows that the party is too soft on government," a PPP office-bearer said. He said that it was for the first time that PPP failed to clinch even a single councillor seat in the LB polls in Balochistan, putting the blame on the central leadership that was divided between Zardari and Bilawal camps.
Hassan Askari, political analyst and former head of political science department of Punjab University, told The Nation that co-chairman Asif Zardari was still operational head of the party. He said the party does not exist on ground in three provinces other than Sindh.
"The fear that Bilawal might be attacked by terrorists has further limited the party to Sindh. So far there is no concrete evidence about the difference of opinion between Zardari and his son but one thing is clear that the gap left by PPP is filled by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab," Mr Askari maintained.
Senator Farhatullah Baber, spokesman for the former President Zardari, did not respond to a text message sent on his cell number regarding the two masters in PPP.
There is a strong perception that Aseefa, the youngest of the three siblings, was also eyeing a bigger role in the party and Zaradri is said to have softer spot for her. Sources said Aseefa's powerful aunt Faryal Talpur too is very much warm to her and belated start of Bilawal in active politics may help Aseefa to step in earlier.
"Perhaps this is the reason many party leaders cannot meet Bilawal alone. Most of the time he is either flanked by his aunt or his father, thus you cannot get his exclusive stance on any issue," a disgruntled PPP stalwart put in.