While yesterday Benazir Bhutto would have celebrated her 61st birthday, all that one can think about is the loss her party and Pakistan faced when she was assassinated in 2007. It can safely be said that at the time, she was the only charismatic leader the country had. She was also its most courageous leader, ready to take on anything and anyone. The same cannot be said of any politician since.
In Pakistan politics works on loyalty, and that was something Benazir Bhutto inspired to the level of cult worship. After her death, with Bilalwal still young, Zardari as a pure Machiavelian has to make sure he capitalized on this; the PPP would not function well without the Bhutto cult. There were no two ways about it for Zardari. He could lose the party to people like Sherry Rehman, Rehman Malik and Naheed Khan. Zardari tolerated the media, tolerated the lawyers and even Tahir ul Qadri to become President and complete term, even when his wife and his character had both been assassinated. The PPP won a considerable victory amongst all political parties in 2008, gaining momentum of 121 general seats from all provinces in the Parliament, whilst PML-N came second in place, managing to secure 91 seats from all over the country. The PPP maneuvered to form a coalition government. This says something about his cleverness and the functionality of the PPP.
Yesterday Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on all political forces to stop politicising Operation Zarb-e-Azb and show support to the armed forces. He asked that people donate blood to help soldiers and IDPs. All in all, the PPP was always a dynastic party and has remained so. And atleast in its rhetoric, the party is strong. After her death, what is clear is that what the PPP needed, more than any purely “democratic principle” was Bhuttonism to survive- and at least in that regard, it has managed to stay afloat. Whether this inherited democracy under Bilawal Bhutto will bear any fruit, remains to be seen.