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Wednesday June 12, 2024

Zardari’s pragmatism, Bilawal’s populism

Source rules out differences between two, insisted what Zardari says is party policy, what Bilawal says is for public consumption

By Ansar Abbasi
September 10, 2023
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while speaking in an interview in India. — AFP/File
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while speaking in an interview in India. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The conflicting statements of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and his father, former President Asif Ali Zardari, are part of their strategy to play good cop and bad cop.

An insider claims that Bilawal and Zardari are two sides of the same coin and what they are presently doing is part of their political strategy. Everybody in the party knows, the source said, whom to follow.

He ruled out any differences between the two and insisted that what Zardari says is the party policy and what Bilawal says is for public consumption. Zardari, he said, is not a popular leader but the political mind of the PPP. “What he decides is final and everybody knows in the party,” said the source.

Bilawal Bhutto is popular and, there fore, is assigned to talk about issues that attract and matter for the general public. Zardari’s messaging is for the powers that be, said the source, adding that the PPP co-chairperson has learnt quite a few lessons from the policy of confrontation.

Bilawal and Zardari have been seen confronting each other since yesterday (Friday) when the party chairman demanded the ECP announce the election schedule and hold polls within 90 days.

Without uttering the word establishment, Bilawal had said that he wanted to give a message to the “puppet makers” that they should stop experimenting on the people of Pakistan. “Let the people make their decisions,” he added. Bilawal said that everyone should accept it, people choose Nawaz-Shehbaz, PPP or even the PTI. Bilawal said that the PPP contest is with inflation, unemployment and poverty.

On Saturday, PPP Co-chairman Zardari came to the defence of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and expressed full confidence in the polls governing body, asserting that a fresh delimitation exercise has become obligatory following the notification of the new census. Zardari’s statement, conveyed by the PPP through its social media accounts, emphasised the electoral authority’s mandate to conduct elections in accordance with the Constitution. Zardari instead emphasised on giving priority to the economy over politics. The former president also urged the caretaker government to complete the projects under the army-backed SIFC (Special Investment Finance Council).

Zardari’s statement was seen as snubbing Bilawal, who voiced support for early polls whereas the former wants to give priority to economic revival of the country and not politics. What Zardari said furthered suspicions about delay in elections to correct the country’s economy.

Later, on Saturday Bilawal Bhutto made a startling remark, saying that former president Asif Ali Zardari’s statement on fresh delimitations was his own and not the policy of the party.

When asked about the difference in their statements, Bilawal told the reporter to ask Zardari about what he meant with his statement. He recalled the PPP’s last CEC meeting, headed by him and the former president, where the forum considered both opinions regarding the time of elections and all the party’s legal experts told the meeting that the Constitution makes it clear that elections have to be conducted within 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies.

Bilawal said that he was bound to Zardari on their family matters but as far as political matters, Constitution and party policy are concerned, he was bound to follow his workers and his party’s central executive committee’s decisions.