‘Keen learner’ Bilawal Bhutto not to jump headfirst into Pak politics

May 1st, 2011 - 11:34 am ICT by ANI  

Benazir Bhutto Karachi, May 1(ANI): Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is set to “take up some political responsibility in September this year,” will not be jumping headfirst into politics, but will first learn the workings of the party inside-out, according to PPP leaders.

Bilawal was made the chairman of the PPP by Central Executive Committee (CEC) members at a meeting held in Naudero following the assassination of his mother and former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The CEC had decided that till the completion of Bilawal’s education, his father Zardari would run the party affairs as the co-chairman.

According to PPP Member of National Assembly (MNA) and Zardari’s Media Adviser Farahnaz Ispahani, while Bilawal is already familiar with the party structure and leadership, the new move will see him being involved with the party in an organised manner.

Ispahani said that PPP General Secretary Jahangir Badar will take Bilawal under his wing, and that he will be working with senior provincial leaders, such as Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

“Bilawal has specifically expressed interest in the party’s youth wing, which was very dear to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto,” The Express Tribune quoted Ispahani, as saying.

“He will be looking into modernising the Peoples Youth Organisation, and bringing in new ideas, media technology etc through intellectual and practical exercises,” she added.

Bilawal, who turns 23 this September, is two years away from being eligible to run for a provincial or national assembly seat, but the PPP believes that the idea is not for Bilawal to jump into politics by contesting elections, but to spend time learning about the party.

“He is a keen learner,” said Ispahani. “He has spent time travelling here and meeting party leaders and members. He listens and he takes his time with making comments on issues.”

While Bilawal has attracted criticism for being the newest symbol of dynasty politics in the subcontinent, he also garnered praise for his stance on the assassinations of former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and former Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

Bilawal, who graduated from Oxford University last year, could emerge as PPP’s much-needed progressive voice, given what appears to be his interest in social issues and stance on minorities.

The timing of the announcement is worth noting. The PPP, like all other political parties, is looking at the 2013 elections.

While it managed to win a large number of seats in the 2008 elections, observers noted that the party also won the sympathy vote in the wake of Benazir’s assassination. By working with the youth wing, Bilawal could possibly galvanise young voters and Bhutto family loyalists.

“He seems to have a natural talent for public speaking. It’s impossible to not have goose bumps when hearing him. In terms of sustaining the family legacy in Sindh, Bilawal has that natural appeal as Benazir’s son which Zardari can never have,” remarked analyst Mosharraf Zaidi. (ANI)

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