Published in The Nation newspaper on 27-Dec-2012
ISLAMABAD - By and large, it is the consensus view of Pakistan People’s Party stalwarts that all of them want to see the party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a leading role in the upcoming general elections for the party, and most probably some formal announcement in this connection is expected on the fifth martyrdom anniversary of Benazir Bhutto in Ghari Khuda Bux today (Thursday).
A day later on Friday (tomorrow), the Central Executive Committee of the party will be meeting at the same venue to ponder over the party’s strategy for the upcoming polls and some major announcements including some top level changes in the frontrunners of party’s affairs particularly in Punjab are expected.
Sources in the party said though President Zardari is keeping his cards close to his chest yet he did have consultation with his core aides about his strategy for the upcoming elections, which of course included the formal launching of his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the national politics.
The rumours of elevation of former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as another co-chairman of the party from his existing slot of vice chairman of the party are also in the air, but the slot would lose its significance once the Chairman of the party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would land in active politics. However, former premier Gilani would definitely have a leading role to play in the party’s elections campaign, particularly in southern Punjab.
Some insiders in the party said that President Zardari would not relinquish his political office as they considered as their retreat and a moral victory of their political opponents who were terming the holding of dual offices by President Zardari as unconstitutional and unlawful. Definitely such a retreat would have negative fallouts on the party in elections, they added.
The decision of President Zardari to appoint Mian Manzoor Wattoo as the PPP Central Punjab President did not go well with the hardcore party workers and leaders. Due to his unacceptability in the party’s ranks the party failed to deliver in the recently held by elections in parts of central and southern Punjab where Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) candidates had outwitted the joint candidates of PPP and PML-Q.
Those who were earlier whispering against the appointment of Mian Manzoor Wattoo as PPP Central Punjab President have now raised their voice against his appointment and most likely his role in Punjab would be marginalized.
Though PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is restrained to contest elections till September next year when he would turn 25 and become eligible to be the member of National Assembly, but he would be addressing a few main elections rallies of the party across the country with the aim to reinvigorate the party workers and to woo public at large.
Only time will tell whether he would become a crowd puller like his Shaheed mother and maternal grandfather. But definitely the party activists and Bhutto’s loyalist would see the reflection of both in him, commented a senior party leader and hoped that he would serve as triumph card for the party in upcoming general elections.
Though no formal charge was given to any of the party leaders for the political grooming of young party chairman but there is no dearth of uncles in the party who are forthcoming to train the young Bhutto tricks of the trade.
Interestingly many a party stalwarts used to claim in the private functions that they have been assigned the task of political training of Bilawal by President Zardari and these self-styled mentors kept on changing from time to time depending on their relations with party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
In his heydays former law minister Dr. Babar Awan used to claim that he his taking care of Bilawal Bhutto and teaching him the tricks of the ‘tricky trade.’ While close aides of President Zardari like A. Rehman Malik, Farooq H. Naek and many others seen claiming this heavy responsibility on their shoulders in the cosy social gatherings.
Some of the buddies of President Zardari, who have nothing to do with politics, like Ahmad Riaz Sheikh and some feudals from Sindh were also claimed to be the political instructors of Bilawal.
But very few knew that President Asif Ali Zardari is himself grooming his son and teaching him the nitty-gritty of party as well as national politics and he would continue to monitor and actually handle the party affairs for several years to come despite landing of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the political arena.
Bilawal, who has politics in his blood, is also getting political training from his aunt Ms Faryal Talpur, who was the de facto head of the party since his brother Asif Ali Zardari had assumed the office of President of Pakistan.
The chances of formal political launching of Bilawal Bhutto in active politics have given a ray of hope to all those party leaders and activists who were either sidelined by the incumbent party hierarchy or they become dormant after developing serious differences with President Zardari and his way of running the party’s affairs.
Only time will tell that how the young Bhutto, who in the past had differed with his father on certain issues and has marvellous political pedigree, would deal with these old loyalists of Bhuttos.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 27-Dec-2012