All in all, it was a good show by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Karachi. Since its terrible defeat in the 2013 general elections, many have asked whether the party will ever be able to regain popularity. Its performance, especially with regards to governance issues, was abysmal during its stint in power from 2008-2013. It's not doing any wonders for Sindh either, where it is leading the provincial government. There is also the phenomenon of the PTI, which has been eating into the PPP’s vote bank in Punjab and elsewhere, by presenting itself as the ‘real opposition’. On top of all that, the PPP doesn’t have Benazir Bhutto anymore. Asif Ali Zardari is clever and politically mature, but not wildly popular with the masses. Being a dynastic party, it is hardly a surprise to see that it has put its hopes firmly in Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to reinvigorate a dying spirit. Can dynastic politics be deemed democratic? Then again, would the event have attracted such a crowd if  Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s grandson and Benazir’s son, Bilawal Bhutto, was not speaking on the occasion? South Asian politics is yet to evolve to a stage where dynasties cease to matter. Look at Thailand. Look at India. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Expectedly, Bilawal’s speech was the main attraction. It is important to commend the 26-year old for raising issues many ‘elders’ avoid mentioning out of fear or expediency. Persecution of Hazaras, VMBP march and missing persons of Balochistan, religious extremism and terrorism, victims of blasphemy laws, Aasia Bibi, Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti – all this in one speech, which is rare. Raising one's voice on these issues is enough to get one killed in Pakistan, and this is why the PPP is indispensable for many who feel threatened by the relentless right-wing onslaught on national politics. It is for this reason that they are willing to overlook Bilawal’s rather undemocratic path to party chairmanship for the sake of the greater good. Bilawal’s speech was critical of all relevant entities, such as the PML-N, the PTI, the MQM and other “anti-democracy” forces. He referred to revolutionaries of the Islamabad sit-ins as puppets, lambasted the PML-N for its highhandedness in the Model Town tragedy case and poor governance, and criticized the MQM for the situation in Karachi. No surprises there. What was critically missing from his speech however, was accepting the PPP’s shortcomings and a mention of the new leader’s plans to rectify wrongs. The rhetoric is familiar. It has some truth to it too. But, it’s not good enough. Bilawal did say all the right things and we can even assume that he believes in what he says. But the people want to see him walk the talk. In order to change Pakistan, the PPP will have to reform itself into a party of do-ers once more. Is Bilawal the man for that job? So far, we don’t know. And that may just be the reason why the masses will find it hard to be swayed by the slogan of Jiye Bhutto this time around.