Bilawal Bhutto’s Bid for Change in Pakistani Politics

Bilawal’s campaigning seems to be focused on a parallel narrative which is seeking an end to traditional politics of division done by politicians like Sharif…reports Hamza Ameer

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the former foreign minister of Pakistan and the heir to the Bhutto family with a legacy of political history, struggles and sacrifices, is geared up to disseminate a parallel political narrative, which aims to introduce a way out of the polarised politics of hate and revenge, making him a strong candidate in the February 8 general elections in the country.

Bilawal said arrow, the emblem of Pakistan People’s Party, he inherited from his mother and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, symbolises “self-respecting, trustworthy, victory.

He said: “We are promising to end the traditional politics and hatred and division, and appealing to the people of Pakistan to choose a new way of thinking.”

Bilawal’s prime contention, after the removal of PTI founder Imran Khan and his party symbol from February 8 general elections, is PML(Nawaz) and former three time premier Nawaz Sharif.

The PPP chairman alleged that Sharif has returned through a “deal” with the country’s military establishment and has been focused on asking why his government was overthrown.

Bilawal’s campaigning seems to be focused on a parallel narrative which is seeking an end to traditional politics of division done by politicians like Sharif.

“We accept that people have different points of view. But that doesn’t mean that you have to develop a personal animosity,” said Bilawal while addressing a public gathering.

It would not be wrong to state that the major focus of Bilawal is to make strong in-roads into the Punjab and the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) provinces as he has submitted his nomination papers from Lahore as well.

“Imran Khan is in jail and is not contesting elections, his party (PTI) has been dismantled through a crackdown since May 9, Nawaz Sharif has returned and all have seen his legal convictions literally evaporate, indicating clearly that he and his party have come back through a deal with the powerful military, and Sharif’s political speeches have been more focused on highlighting the problems in Khan’s government. In this scenario where parties are decrying each other as traitors; Bilawal has repositioned himself differently and moderately,” said political analyst Adnan Shauqat.

“We have seen Bilawal pledge truth and reconciliation, end of political vendetta and release of political prisoners. He also talks about youth and how new ideas of the new age are needed to move forward with a new plan and now through old failed traditional political tactics of division, hate and vengeance,” added Shauqat.

Bilawal said in a interview that there was an urgent and immediate need to develop fundamental rules of the game, or a code of conduct for how politics should be done in this country in order to strengthen democracy and negate the strong influence of the military establishments, who have directly ruled the country for decades and still order the shots as political kingmakers.

Bilawal is also trying to reach out to a large support voters of Khan and PTI, who are vulnerable after their leader and party symbol is out of the election race. And the narrative Bilawal is towing is certainly positive optimistic music to the ears of PTI supporters, who may be inclined to see PPP as their future coalition partner.

While Sharif is tipped as the next premier of Pakistan, the election is being broadly termed as a process of “selection” rather than “election”. However, Bilawal’s parallel narrative hits the right nodes and carries with it the capacity to turn the table, making him and his party a force to watch out for.

ALSO READ-Bilawal Bhutto Watches Closely as PML-N Forges Alliances with the Military

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