Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – The Son Turned Leader Surprised All

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - National Assembly Maiden Speech
The new leader of the Pakistan People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Benazir Bhutto, speaks during a news conference at a hotel in London, Tuesday Jan. 8, 2008.

I could not think of any other title, especially after the maiden speech of Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian – A political party that was founded in the early 70s by his grandfather, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The speech he delivered augured the much-needed points on the floor. It was impressive and straightforward with a loud message that resonated volume of nuances. A subtle shift from one resolution to another.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party
Courtesy: The Express Tribune

If we want to assess him as a leader, let’s clear our minds with some traditional mockery that mainstream media and hate-politics have instilled in us. Let’s forget about his Urdu. Let’s put aside the way he speaks. Let’s not consider his accent for a second. Let’s try.

The Renaissance

Historically, the party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is currently associated with had a peak fame in the early 70s, when one of the most vibrant, charismatic, intellectual, and bold leaders of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was leading it. A crowd-puller that raised the notion of poor people in the mainstream:

“Roti, Kapra aur Makaan”

I would not go further into what Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did that made this party leads the rest because that’s not the point of discussion here.

Why People Have More Expectations from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari?

From Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto to Benazir Bhutto, it is difficult for someone to take their positions. They were all unique and personalities of principles, who not only prove themselves in the country within but everywhere in the world. The intellectual speeches that they delivered, the ideologies they cherished, and the personalities they upheld are incomparable. That’s the reason, why people look up to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to mirror their reflections in voice, in personality, in gratitude, in actions, and in deliverance.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Speech at United States Institute of Peace
Courtesy: United States Institute of Peace – Youtube

Does Bilawal Possess that Reflection?

That’s a critical examination. I am personally a fan of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto – a true admirer. In 2000s, she was the hope for almost everyone. Her death shattered me completely and I could not look for another leader to choose. I could not contemplate with the transition of the leadership. At that time, I became no more a fan of after-Bhutto PPP. Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was not in the mainstream politics, as he was completing his studies. After a few years, he appeared to address on several locations – not impressive at all.

Personal Attacks

There was the time when Bilawal Bhutto Zardari fell prey to the aesthetics of hate-politics and personal attacks. He faced extreme mockery for his accent and broken Urdu. It wasn’t new. Benazir faced the same response by critics when she first stepped into politics. However, if I focus on the content of both at the start, obviously Bilawal Bhutto Zardari cannot be appreciated more compared to ZAB and BB.

Emergence Within and Outside the Country

The first time he emerged as a positive picture was when he emancipated himself from the safe-zone and came into the playing field – “No Hate Politics”. His appearance on international forums, including Economic Forum and Indian media – he convinced the critics to applaud. The way he presented the picture of Pakistan whilst sitting among the dynamic professionals of Russia, US, and UK, the responses from the panel proved his influential leadership. Furthermore, in an interview with an Indian News channel, the way he defended the military of our country and our peaceful defense mechanism is another ball game.

Political Campaigning

His political campaign was peaceful and straightforward with a basic agenda “No Hate Politics”. It was unique and convincing at that time because of the aggressive political atmosphere. Maybe, that is the reason that PPP has attained more seats in NA compared to the 2012 elections. He represented his agenda and talked about the policies from one city to another – he contested the elections with a true spirit.

Bilawal bhutto Zardari speech during political campaign
Courtesy: Parhlo

Rigging Chaos

PTI appeared as the largest party in the 2018 elections. All parties cried foul, and so did he. However, the stance he took was worth appreciating. He did not blame PTI for that or started mocking Imran Khan – totally opposite to what other parties were doing. He held Election Commission accountable for that. It was a viz-a-viz legal and proper way to proceed with while rejecting the call of opposition to not join the parliament. He showed his influential leadership again and compelled them to not let go the parliamentary platform.

Maiden Speech – Whattay Speech

After it was announced that Imran Khan became Prime Minister elect, the national assembly transformed into almost a dharna place, which sabotaged the respect of that prestigious house. He tried to convince the opposition parties to stop this wrongful way of protest. After several failed attempts, he decided to walk out. It was the better option, as he was left with nothing else to do.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Maiden Speech in the Parliment
Courtesy: PTV

Because of the rivalry between the two parties PTI and PMLN, their leaders could not properly deliver their opinions due to extreme chanting and exchange of slogans. However, since Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his members did not participate in that wrongful play, when he started the speech, the floor was in complete silence – I would say a pin-drop silence to be precise – one could listen to his speech properly and, therefore, it had a huge impact and became the ‘speech of the day’.

Starting Lines of Speech Blew the Members and the Viewers Away!

He started off with condemning the wrongful attitude of the members, followed by submitting gratitude before Almighty, and then congratulations to the speaker and PM Imran Khan for electing on the prestigious seats. Unlike others who were busy  responding to each other’s accusations, he paid the tribute to Mr. Haroon Bilor and several other people who were killed in the terrorist attacks on election day, especially to the people of Quetta.

Terrorism, Extremism, and Compromised Freedom

After that, he recalled the importance of the house and the promising deliverance by the earlier leaders of his party. For the continuum of democracy and the sacrifices, he said, “We’ve paid a price”. Moving ahead, he proceeded with the issues of the country – terrorism, extremism, and compromised freedom.

“Unfortunately, both terrorism and extremism are not in the priority agenda of both the PML-N and the PPP,” he added, “We have lost freedom of press and human rights. There are challenges on economic fronts as we are drowning in debts. There are also challenges on foreign policy front.”

Concerning the exploitation of religion, he said, “we have exploited religion for political gain.” And, the concerning the hate that spread throughout the country due to aggressive campaigns, he criticized, “we pitted one Pakistani against another.”

Balanced Speech Without Attacks

However, due to the allegations of his father Zardari, he did not fulfill the expectations of Syasi Pandits, “accusations on judiciary or personal attacks.” He was very balanced, humble, and mature. Pointing to Imran Khan, he sarcastically enforced that there should be end to “hate-speech” and “abusive words” being openly delivered by even public representatives. He remained balanced and without any provocative personal attack to anyone.

“With congratulating the PM elect, I would remind him that he is not only the PM of any specific party. He is PM of Pakistan. He is PM of every citizen. He is also the PM of those Pakistani he calls zinda Lashay. He is also the PM he calls donkeys. He is also the PM of those Pakistanis he calls goats and sheep.”

Shared Hopes with Imran Khan

After that, he hoped that Imran Khan would burry this aggressive politics and will encourage the tolerance. He also assured that for every good of this parliament and for the Pakistan, Imran Khan and the government bloc would find him supportive. However, he warned for any misconduct to be faced with serious and stiff opposition.

And, He Ended

“Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank, and congratulate the PM Select and wish him good luck.”

The end was sarcastic and even Imran Khan couldn’t resist to tap the bench.

How People Reacted to the Speech of Bilwal Bhutto Zardari

You Choose!

As per my examination that I have presented, he is surely the vibrant and emerging leader. With his first speech in assembly, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari proved himself as a mature leader compared to others. It doesn’t matter what language do you choose and what accent you have, as long as it makes sense. As a young Pakistani, I am looking forward to energetic, qualified, and influential leaders, are you?