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Bilawal’s digital election campaign


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There were many hopes from PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for the upcoming general election – especially within the ranks of the party itself. But with security threats emerging left, right and centre for Pakistan’s ‘secular liberal’ parties – the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP), and PPP,  and Bilawal in particular facing security concerns, the young scion of the late Benazir Bhutto has been forced to lead the polls campaign from the sidelines.

This strategy culminated in a video released on Tuesday featuring the young political leader, speaking rather haltingly about the sacrifices of the PPP, its achievements during its five-year tenure as the ruling party and the failures of the PML-N in Punjab. Although Bilawal focused on Sindh and winning votes in the party’s already established vote bank, he also spoke of Peshawar, Lahore and South Punjab (there was scarce mention of Balochistan).

The PPP’s strategy of using Bilawal’s ‘Bhutto power’ as an election-winning tool is understandable, but the execution of the strategy can be called into question. Many have objected to Bilawal’s ‘indoor’ campaign, restricted to television and the internet while others, including politicians of the ANP, PTI and MQM have taken the risk of participating in outdoor meetings, jalsas and door-to-door campaigning. The PPP’s leader’s ability to be ‘in touch’ with the people is considered at stake here.

On the other hand, given that Bilawal’s mother, Benazir was assassinated during one such public rally, it can also be considered reasonable for the PPP to hold on to and guard its most valuable political asset – or can it?

Do you think the party leadership is at fault for making Bilawal conduct the election campaign from the sidelines in this distant and half-hearted manner? Do you think Bilawal will be able to disagree on such matters with his lot of advisers who have been members of this party since decades? More importantly, does everyone agree that he is too young to be the main figure in PPP’s election campaign?

Considering the political mileage associated with Bilawal’s name, what election strategy alternatives could the PPP consider in an environment where it is consistently afraid of conducting outdoor jalsas for fear of militant attacks?


Comments (26) Closed

Zam Apr 24, 2013 09:23pm
Asking Vote for what....? third rated performance from PPP, sorry kiddy come with some solid agenda. Benazir income support program is govt money not yours or your property, its just a change in name.
Amit Apr 24, 2013 11:33am
Wow we have so much in common lets be one country we will have 2 Rahul Gandhis to make fun of :)
Amjad Wyne Apr 26, 2013 12:17am
But they do not attract votes, they buy them. Those not willing to sell are threatened.
TK from USA Apr 25, 2013 04:14pm
@tr, yest it seems like a practical joke. The trouble with practical jokes is that they very often get elected! Especially in Land of the Pure.
G.A. Apr 24, 2013 01:29pm
The best thing he could do for his country is to leave it.
concerned Apr 25, 2013 11:02am
PTI can do campaign in Facebook then why not bilawal bhutto use video campaign?
Concerned Apr 24, 2013 12:21pm
I think Bilawal will probably vote for PTI himself.
fazalpai Apr 25, 2013 08:12am
first think about sanam bhutto, fatima bhutto, zulfiqar bhutto jr, and a long list of diehard and sincere devotees of bhuttos ............THEN............... write emotional lines about bilawal
Rehab afridi Apr 25, 2013 08:03am
His speech sounds more like a theatrical act!. The best thing you can do for the " ghareeb awam" is to return and distribute the looted wealth and leave us the hell alone!!!.
Ruhul Apr 25, 2013 07:21pm
...After his beloved father's stellar performance, Bilawal will be the last straw that will...
ali Apr 25, 2013 08:01am
He is nothing but a looser, who believe politics comes in a plate. all the people who supports him are of same category
Syeda Jafri Apr 25, 2013 05:35am
These ppl say they'll resolve our issues. They can't even dare face the threat we face on daily basis. Ask Bilawal to live for 8-10 hours of loadshedding daily & travel by public transport in karachi for one month. Security threat is a big problem. He can't even bear what we face on a normal, peaceful day, let alone lead the entire nation. Better stay away, stay safe. We can't afford another martyrdom for nothing..
TK from USA Apr 25, 2013 04:12pm
The best thing he can do for Pakistan is to find a way to create jobs.
Jalaluddin S. Hussain Apr 25, 2013 03:50pm
Pakistanis need people's representatives not somebody from the elite. Bilawal should rather complete his studies in England. Let President Zardari resign and do the campaigning in the OPEN!
raika45 Apr 24, 2013 01:57pm
How many people in the rural areas or even elsewhere will vote for someone they have not even seen? This boy is an enigma trying to use the media to get votes.The Bhutto factor can only take so far, he has to walk the last mile to get votes.
Faraz Apr 25, 2013 08:25am
No, thank you. We will take care of Bilawal ourselves. You take care of your Bilawal.
kishaque Apr 25, 2013 07:02pm
So an Oxforf educated man has no shame in being part of a party that has basically ruined the country. What good is this education if it doesn't teach you how to treat another human being with respect and as an elite you have an obligation to protect others' rights? People like Bilawal are "Purhay Likhay Jahil".
Fahad Apr 25, 2013 01:58am
If he can't give speeches in public, can't make party decisions, can't control his father and aunts, then then he ought not to be anywhere near that political party. Either quit politics altogether (he'll get hired in any other profession because he is bright an famous), or form another party and walk the walk. There's no space for inbetweeners in politics.
Ali Apr 25, 2013 04:22am
Conducting speeches written by someone else in urdu language using english accent over the internet showing hardly any content of emotion towards the words erupting from the mouth would do little to attract even a single vote.
sanam Apr 24, 2013 11:07am
two thoughts: 1. considering his mother died in a campaign, this is not unfair. it is perfectly within reason for the people's party to protect bilawal: not only as their main asset but as a human who has a lot of security threats. 2. if his mother was old enough to be in jail at the same age he is now, he is old enough to be the main campaigning tool. if the age factor was not brought up then, it should not now.
Agha Ata (USA) Apr 24, 2013 01:14pm
No, he is expecting PTI to vote for PPP.
Javed Apr 24, 2013 07:05pm
Sure I 100 % agree.
Salim Akbani Apr 25, 2013 01:39pm
The political dynasties due to inheritance needs to come to an end. People of Pakistan deserve to be served by the people who are from them. This man Bilawal and his father represent the old feudal system that has damaged Pakistan in the last 65+ years. The feudal system is crumbling and we should help it out by denying Bilawal and his kind to take control of the country through backdoor channels.
Two Nation theory Apr 24, 2013 06:58pm
or perhaps two bilawals......
tr Apr 25, 2013 01:38pm
what is that a joke? isn't imran khan life in danger, the only clean guy in pakistan's political parties? it will pakistan's biggest misfortune after zardari if bilawal becomes a prime minister or president. my God. for heavens sake.
Rogers Evans Apr 25, 2013 12:00pm
Bilawal does not speak fluently any of the languages of Pakistan. Therefore he is hiding behind digital language. This will not help PPP in elections, as common person in Pakistan does not understand him. Any way GOOD LUCK to PPP, if they win, but very bad for the country.