Garhi Khuda Bakhsh came alive on the 6th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, as the son of the slain leader and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Patron-in-Chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, took to stage to deliver a passionate speech before thousands of onlooking “jiyalas”. The address contained a little something for everyone. For supporters, Mr Bilawal offered promises of reorganization of the party to return it to its past glory. He certainly didn’t shy away from repeatedly reminding them who stood before them; the son of their beloved Benazir, and the grandson of the ideal, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Understandable, since it is from the Bhutto lineage and its “sacrifices” that the PPP has the best chance to rekindle the flame that has burnt out. But, it will take a lot more than just that. The ineffectiveness of the PPP’s emotionally overwrought election campaign bears testimony to the fact that performance has no substitute.

Mr Bilawal also established himself as one of the very, very few leaders from mainstream political parties to openly denounce terrorists, and discredit the notion of ‘peace talks’. It was refreshing to witness a politician who is often disregarded as “immature” show far more clarity on the issue of terrorism, compared to most “experienced” players. As if being the head of the PPP alone wasn’t sufficient to warrant a serious threat to life, Mr Bilawal took the liberty to describe militants as “animals”, who could only be engaged in negotiations if they lay down their arms and accept constitutional supremacy. He rightly pointed out that those who link the terror campaign in the country with drone attacks are in the wrong, and the militants would surely continue to destroy and kill even if the strikes halted. It is tragic that the hard but necessary stand against militancy was taken by someone who just turned eligible to contest elections. PM Nawaz Sharif and Mr Imran Khan, and their stance, or lack thereof, on national issues, clearly demonstrates that age doesn’t guarantee wisdom or bravery.

It was interesting to observe Mr Bilawal’s ‘slap and pat’ approach in dealing with his rivals. While PM Sharif was reminded of his ‘political roots’, he was assured that no co-operation would be extended to those who plotted to derail the democratic government. Mr Khan came under heavy fire over his apologetic views on TTP, but sympathies were extended over rigging against his party in Punjab. Politics is fine, for what else is to be expected from politicians, but terming privatization of national assets and the essential downsizing which will follow, as some anti-people measure is inappropriate. And, so is offering justifications for PPP’s failure in the general elections. Mr Bilawal would do well to take his own advice and “move on”. The past cannot be altered. It is the present and the future which demands attention.