Disclaimer: For the PPP jiyalas who get supremely offended by all posts barely criticizing their political party, the Bhuttos, and related offspring, take a deep, deep, deeeeeeeep breath…
Last week, the Chairman of the PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joined Twitter! This was apparently quite newsworthy, so much so that the Express Tribune reported, “The first tweet by Bilawal, whose handle is @BBhuttoZardari, read: @AseefaBZ how do i fix my profile picture so our faces aren’t cut off?”
Yes, this was news! BBZ is on Twitter! He’s just like us! Tweeting about inane things like profile photos and reading the newspaper! And like other political counterparts, he can now connect to…0.01% of Pakistan’s masses! Party of the people, I tell ya.
Are you still breathing deeply, PPP supporters? I’m just being facetious! Ha, ha! (Please don’t come at me with virtual pitch forks! Ah! Dementors!)
Twitter can be quite useful, particularly when news agencies report that the heir to the Bhutto throne (just kidding, jiyalas! I meant the Chosen One! Stupefy! Hee!) will be contesting the general elections from the PPP’s stronghold of Lyari, in Karachi. Bilawal’s father, President Zardari made the announcement Monday while speaking to former party activists and MNAs, stating, “Bilawal is your future MNA and despite being away he is keenly monitoring developments in Lyari.” Dawn reported,
According to sources, President Zardari asked National Database and Registration Authority officials to devise a programme for Bilawal Bhutto for his interaction with the people of Lyari so that he could track events and developments in the area from London. The president said that PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto was keen to see Lyari become a thriving and vibrant place, free from acrimony and criminals, the sources added.
Does the programme involve Skype? Google + hangout sessions with Lyari’s best & brightest gangsters? According to the Nation, “Bilawal would come to Pakistan in September this year and thereafter will remain in contact with the people and elected representatives of Lyari by holding regular meetings. He would also oversee the development projects and other matters related to the neighborhood.”
But despite news agencies’ claims that BBZ would contest the upcoming elections (in 2013), he, via Twitter, clarified, “Took my first breath in Lyari. special place in my heart for Lyari. want so much more 4 Lyari. Still not running in next election.” (TGFT – Thank God For Twitter.)
Back in April, Saba Imtiaz cited PPP leaders in an article for the Express Tribune, who said Bilawal “will not be jumping headfirst into politics and will first learn the workings of the party inside-out.” And although BBZ will take on some “political responsibility” in September [see above], MNA Farahnaz Ispahani told Imtiaz that PPP’s General Secretary Jahangir Badar “will take Bilawal under his wing and he will be working with senior provincial leaders, such as current Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.” She added,
Bilawal has specifically expressed interest in the party’s youth wing, which was very dear to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. He will be looking into modernizing the Peoples Youth Organisation, and bringing in new ideas, media technology etc. through intellectual and practical exercises.
Imtiaz in her piece, projected, “By working with the youth wing, Bilawal could possibly galvanize young voters and Bhutto family loyalists.” This move could also allow BBZ to build up momentum, earn credibility, and “learn the ropes” of the political world before he contests the elections in Lyari, not because the party ultimately fears losing the area – which has been a PPP stronghold since 1967 – but potentially because they want to show that Bilawal earned his political power.
And herein lies the irony. Can you truly earn what was already entitled to you? Don’t get me wrong – in many ways, I appreciate that Bilawal isn’t contesting the elections in 2013 just because he can. He’s not just being thrust into power prematurely. However, much of this still sits uncomfortably within the parameters of dynastic politics. This is therefore still a symptom of a much larger problem with politics and leadership in Pakistan, which is and has historically been personality-based. But given that this is our current reality – do we accept this as a given and appreciate efforts by the PPP to groom a leader rather than usher a child into the political ring? At what point will we feel that BBZ earned his political badge?