LAHORE - Irrespective of whether the stories about the alleged serious differences between Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal are true or false, one thing is sure that all this gossip is really contributing a lot to the image building of Bilawal who is getting the projection, though indirectly, of being a leader quite different from his father whose tainted image over the years might affect the political career of his son.
A close examination of the issues over which Bilawal is apparently displeased with his father leads one to have a quite different perspective of the whole affair from the one which comes to mind by seeing what on the surface is.
It is being said that he is dissatisfied with the performance of the Sindh government, especially its inability to handle the drought crisis in Tharparkar. This only means that young Bilawal believes in good governance with earnest desire to change the status quo.
That he does not like too much interference of his aunt, Faryal Talpur, in the PPP matters is also something which is being appreciated by those party men who are also against her dominant role in the party affairs.
Old PPP guards have the feeling that Bhutto’s party has been hijacked by the Zardari family which is putting on much effort to make a new team comprising Zardari loyalists. This makes Bilawal the darling of the party cadres that have undergone in slumber for being ignored by his father.
That father did not make Bilawal as chief of the Zardari tribe to show his displeasure with the son also goes well for Bilawal’s image. This is, in fact, is an indication and a positive sign that he would carry forward the political legacy of Bhutto family.
An impression is being created that Asif Ali Zardari is angry with his son over the selection of his political team a few months back reportedly without his consent and which mainly consisted of the old PPP guards who once worked with his mother, Benazir Bhutto. This shows that Bilawal wants to emulate the style of his slain mother, a charismatic leader who led the party for over quarter of a century.
It is also being projected that he is opposed to his father’s policy of political reconciliation with MQM and PML-N. Again this is something the PPP cadres abhor the most. They want their leadership to do aggressive politics by criticizing the PML-N government and also take on PTI, another emerging force in politics.
It is also reported that he is not happy with his father over distribution of Senate tickets among the cronies. This means that Bilawal wants right persons to occupy important positions purely on merit.
To the contrary, Zardari has not been able so far to come out of his image of “Mr 10 Percent” despite being cleared by the courts of most of the corruption cases instituted against him in the past. PPP’s dismal performance in the last general elections is largely attributed to lack of leadership qualities in Asif Ali Zardari and the bad performance of his team in the last tenure in government. At present, the PPP is in a state of disintegration with some party men thinking of leaving the organisation.
There is also a lot of resentment in the party ranks over selection of Zardari’s political team in Punjab and KP as it has not been picked from amongst the diehard party workers and mostly comprises those who have been parachuted in the party. The names of Mian Manzoor Wattoo and Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood can be quoted in this regard from Punjab.
Reading between the lines, the whole story of alleged differences between the two projects a totally different image of Bilawal in sheer contrast to his father. Those PPP men who believe in this theory view this as ‘Noora Kushti’ (a mock fight) between the father and the son meant only to build a better image of Bilawal, the future leader of the PPP. They think that Bilawal would be entrusted with the party command close to the next general elections and his good image would surly lead the party to victory in the polls.