LAHORE - Nobody knows when the “brave” son – Bilawal - of a “fearless” father - Zardari- sneaks in or out of the country. Also, none knows how long he will stay in the country where, according to his maternal grandmother the late Nusrat Bhutto, “Bhuttos (now read Bhutto-Zardaris) are born to rule”.
But two days after Eidul Azha, he delivered a speech in Karachi which is the subject of discussions at political forums.
He visited the site of the Karsaz tragedy where 177 people had lost their lives and another 600 sustained injuries while participating in a caravan led by Benazir Bhutto on her return to Pakistan on October 18, 2007.
The “good news” that Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari broke on the occasion was that five years from now – in 2018 - he would act like an “arrow” and his father Zardari as a “bow” and the pair would hunt down the “lion”, a euphemism for the PML-N. He also launched a frontal attack on the PTI, the MQM and what he called monopolists of religion, without clearly pointing out who he was referring to.
Unaware of the common man’s problems, the PPP leader did not say a word about the unbearable price-hike, terrorist activities in various parts of the country, unemployment and the energy crisis, which will return with its full intensity after a break of a few days because of the Eid holidays. Since there was no mention of the problems, there was also no question of any proposal for solving them.
Needless to point out that at present the PPP is the biggest opposition party and it is its duty to point out flaws in the government policies and propose measures to deal with all problems.
It’s not clear what purpose was served by the pearls of wisdom coming from the budding PPP chief or how would the public at large be relieved of the above-mentioned problems if the arrow and bow worked in unison and succeeded in hunting down the “beast” after five years?
The May 11 elections provided the best opportunity to the PPP to “hunt down” the lion. That was the time when the PPP could highlight the five-year performance of its government and seek public support to retain power. But Bilawal stayed away from the campaign mainly because of security reasons. And the father could not come out of the presidency because the constitution did not allow him to take part in party activities.
Since the performance of the PPP-led coalition was very disappointing, the voters rejected all parties which were part of the setup.
In his speech, Bilawal pledged to rid Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of the PTI-led tsunami. He called Imran Khan as “Buzdil Khan”, or a cowardly leader.
While every party has the right to try to defeat its rivals through vote, it’s rather strange for a man like Bilawal to call Imran a coward. And if the PTI chief could be labelled as such despite the fact that he did not leave the country no matter what the situation, how would the young PPP leader categorise himself or his worthy father?
The PPP leadership will be within its right to try to bring down the MQM’s kite. But as for Mr Altaf Hussain’s telephonic addresses from London, Bilawal should not forget that his mother had also been doing the same when she lived in self-imposed exile. She had left the country during the PML-N rule in 1999, only days before being convicted by an LHC bench on corruption charges, and stayed abroad for about nine years.
She was still in London when she addressed the Lahore journalists via phone. She had claimed that the 9/11 tragedy would not have happened if her government had not been dismissed by then president Farooq Leghari in 1996.
The writer, then working for Dawn, had asked her how she would have averted such a world level tragedy when, despite being the prime minister, she had failed to avert the murder of her brother Murtaza Bhutto.
This does not mean that the writer supports the stay abroad of Mr Altaf Hussain. He has been repeatedly urged to come to Pakistan and live with his people and play his role in national politics.
Bilawal’s claim that the PPP sacrificed 100 NA seats in 2013 polls to save the lives of party workers is in conflict with the policy his father has been pursuing despite a humiliating defeat of his party. Instead of challenging the fairness of polls, Mr Zardari offered fullest cooperation to the PML-N government. It was the first time that an English language newspaper carried as lead story on September 9 Mr Zardari’s offer in Urdu words: “Qadam Barrhao Nawaz Sharif Hum Tumharay Saath Hain”.
Maybe, Mr Bilawal’s speech was aimed at making his presence in the political arena felt at a time when there are reports that he may be asked to contest election from an NA seat in Sindh and play the role of the opposition leader.
Also, it may be an attempt to mobilise the people for the local elections, which the Supreme Court wants held without delay.