KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has started his public campaign at last. He visited Sukkur, Chiniot and Multan last week and met people in the flood-hit areas, discussed the problems they are facing and distributed relief goods among them.
During his visit to Sukkur Barrage he was briefed on the floods and arrangements made by the Sindh government to counter any disaster. While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and many others also paid similar visits to the flood-hit areas, no politician received the warm welcome Bilawal was given by the public.
Bilawal might not have distributed goods among the people in huge quantities but he had their full attention. Even though these people were facing grave troubles, they warmly welcomed the young PPP leader, a sign of their ties to the Bhutto clan. Bilawal was made to feel as though he is the real heir of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
After Benazir was assassinated in 2007, it has become difficult for the PPP leadership to maintain the same level of contact with the masses as they had done prior to her death. The party was forced to cease campaigning during the elections and many in circles of power said the party leadership would not launch any public campaign, enabling an alternate political leadership to surface in this absence. They predicted that the people would forget the PPP, but Bilawal’s visits to the flood-hit areas in Sindh and Punjab proved these calculations incorrect.
The face of Pakistani politics created in the wake of terrorist activities will change as soon as Bilawal visits more cities and speeds up his public campaign. A number of PPP members advised Bilawal to be mindful of security reasons. Bilawal is always looking forward to meet people. When he chose to wade through knee-deep water in his Chiniot visit, he reminded people of BB and ZAB. Bilawal’s recent visits proved that he will be appreciated immensely in Pakistani politics.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf organised a procession recently which was attended by hundreds of people – however, they were there for a reason and Imran Khan did not mention this during his talk. He did not talk about party member Zehra Shahid who was slain during the 2013 elections, even though he had promised to reveal the identities of her killers at his Karachi jalsa.
In his address in Karachi last Sunday, Imran slammed the leaders of Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam and his criticism was not appropriate. The people of the city knew that even Khan will not dare to oppose the establishment on the Karachi issue. It is believed that the rulers will work on the establishment’s agenda and it is also feared that they can hinder the process of democracy.
Former PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel asked why Imran Khan only spoke of the Lyari issue in Karachi. “Where are the killers of Zehra Apa?” Qadir questioned. “Why did Imran Khan not provide documents about the killing to Scotland Yard? The people have seen his real face,” he added.
Conversely, former provincial minister Owais Muzaffar said the PPP has kicked off a cleanliness drive in different parts of Sindh as they believe in the politics for service. He directed elected members of the party to pay attention to their districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2014.