Shahbaz Taseer received a warm welcome from parties across the board on his return to his family, and Bilawal Bhutto – the co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party and a close friend of Shahbaz – was one of the first to visit him at his family home in Lahore. The widely circulated image of the smiling family from that afternoon includes Bilawal, who shared a few friendly hours with the family before leaving for Islamabad to attend to party business. Word on the grapevine however suggests that there was more to the visit than meets the eye.

Close aides to Bilawal and senior PPP leaders have hinted that Shahbaz Taseer may join politics soon and could be given a sizeable role in Punjab. And while this development still exists in the plane of speculation and brainstorming, there are factors that might affect it. Bilawal has been looking for ‘young blood’ to add the ailing party’s rooster, and both men share a friendship as well as a history with violent extremism.

With the old guard embroiled in all sorts of corruption and mismanagement scandals, bringing in a new face, which appeals to the party’s originally-intended audience of young leftists, may not be a bad idea. That, at least on the face of it, is the message the PPP may want to send.

Assuming that such a plan is actually implemented, the question that needs to be answered is whether Shahbaz Taseer is the answer to PPP’s problems in Punjab? It was not long ago that another, much-loved young icon was inserted into Punjab to revive the party, who – barring small scale success – was unable to do so. This ‘icon’ being Bilawal himself; who entered politics with great fanfare only to be held back by the rambling party structure and the ever present old guard. It is doubtful that Shahbaz can have a greater impact than the scion of the Bhutto name, especially with the religious parties still licking their wounds.

Which brings us to another question; a more pertinent one. Will Shahbaz Taseer follow the political line of his late father or will he follow the PPP policy of not rocking the boat when it comes to controversial religious matters? Both paths have their own pitfalls which must be carefully considered, especially by the Taseer family, that has had fairly little to be happy about the past few years.