PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. — Photo by Reuters/File

NEW YORK, Sept 30: People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that despite all challenges Pakistan is making its first constitutional and peaceful transfer of power from a democratic government to a new democratic government due to a strong and democratic set-up put in place by the PPP.

Addressing an international convention of the PPP here late on Saturday, he said Pakistan had been transformed from a dictatorship into a democracy and “we have restored the supremacy of parliament”.

Mr Bilawal said the PPP would always stand by the overseas Pakistanis and was committed to ensuring the right to vote to them in the elections. “We are committed to the idea that dual-nationals should be able to participate in all our country’s civic matters and that includes the right to contest elections.”

He said that no unelected people had the right to question the loyalty of anyone elected by the people of Pakistan. Therefore, expatriate Pakistanis should be given the right to vote and contest the general elections.

Appreciating the contribution of the Pakistanis living abroad, Mr Bilawal said he could understand their feelings as he was forced to live in exile along with his mother Benazir Bhutto.

Highlighting the achievements of the democratic government, he said: “We have devolved power to the provinces, thus decentralising government and bringing it closer to the people.”

Commenting on the Balochistan situation, the PPP leader said: “With every missing person and with every dead body, we realise a Baloch family loses hope in Pakistan.”

“We have stopped living in denial, and we cannot let the province bleed the way it has and taken historic measures to address the underlying causes of the challenges in Balochistan.”

He said: “Where Musharraf treated the people of Balochistan as enemies of the state we see them as an integral part of our state of Pakistan.”—APP

Masood Haider and Anwar Iqbal add: Mr Bilawal launched the PPP’s election campaign at the convention, underlining the government’s achievements and promising reforms for reviving an ailing economy.

One major achievement that he highlighted – “the first constitutional and peaceful transfer of power from a democratic government to a new democratic government” – is acknowledged by PPP’s rivals as well.

The passion with which he eulogised the government’s response to a recent blasphemous video indicated that the party also planned to use this as a major achievement during the election campaign.

“I join the unanimous chorus of condemnation of a vile, hateful, blasphemous video that has unfortunately incited violence across the Muslim world,” he said.

His father – President Asif Ali Zardari – raised this issue at the UN General Assembly last week and later Pakistan presented a joint declaration at the OIC foreign ministers conference in New York as well. The OIC endorsed the Pakistani move but no other Muslim nation shared its enthusiasm on the issue.

At the PPP convention, speakers likened it to “the great anti-Ahmadiya amendment of 1974”, pledging to the nation that the party would continue to serve Islam and Muslims.

Mr Bilawal also claimed credit for gains his party had little to do with.

“It is under this PPP government that overseas remittances have increased from $6 billion to almost $13 billion,” he said, but failed to mention that it were US-sponsored restrictions on money transfers that made this possible.

Mr Bilawal, who came to the meeting with his sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Ambassador Sherry Rehman, also experienced the traditional PPP ‘jiyala’ culture of shouting, pushing and kicking and had to be escorted by security men when the jiyalas mobbed him.

The jiyalas also fought each other with great zest and turned their attention to journalists when there was nobody else to fight with.

Mr Bilawal’s polished manners, British accent and his politeness contrasted sharply with the crowd’s attitude, indicating that he needed greater exposure to the jiyala culture.

He read from a well-written speech, better suited for a think-tank audience in Washington than a ‘jiyala jalsa’.

He reminded the crowd, which pushed women aside when the dinner was served, that the PPP-led parliament had passed more legislation for women than all past parliaments combined.

“This has been the only government not to hold people in prison for their political allegiances,” said Mr Bilawal as rival PPP factions suggested calling police for getting their rivals arrested.

Mr Bilawal also said that the landmark Benazir Income Support Programme had provided food, clothing and shelter to people, a claim obviously aimed at voters in Pakistan than at an audience which depends on the US economy – and not on a safety net – to earn a living. The Waseela-i-Haq Programme was helping the poorest of the poor to improve their lives and providing jobs.

The programme has improved the health of the poor, and has brought education to them.

The PPP leader said despite external shocks that led to fiscal deficit, Pakistan managed to have an annual GDP growth rate of almost four per cent, a claim rejected in a recent IMF report.

“Our exports crossed an historic benchmark of $25 billion this year. Our agricultural policy has transformed Pakistan from a wheat importer to a wheat exporter,” he said.

The PPP government has more than halved inflation from its peak at 25 per cent to 11 per cent, another claim rejected by the IMF.

“The Karachi Stock Exchange is the 4th best performing in the world. Not in South Asia, not in Asia, not in the East, but in the world,” he said.

Mr Bilawal said the PPP government opposed drone strikes and would fight this war on its own terms, not at the dictation of a foreign power. The US media, however, claimed that Pakistan had allowed the US to continue the drone strikes.

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Comments (78) Closed

Oct 02, 2012 03:13am
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, aw heck I had it coming.
M. Alvi
Oct 01, 2012 12:47pm
This is awfull. Benazir made her 19 year old son the heir of her dynesty. He knows nothing, but he is opening his mouth in a big way against supreme court and everybody else. He is talking about the achievments of PPP, while the country has gone down the drain, and is going down further. Where are those 180 million people of Pakistan? Why can't they stop this nonsense? It seems that those 180 million have also gone down the drain.
Oct 01, 2012 03:41pm
They are all either bought off or are busy toiling about their next meal. Besides, most of them are also uneduacted to understand the politics of their elites.
Oct 01, 2012 10:38pm
What are your credentials, Bilawal? Who are you? Just a son of politicians! You are head of a party just because whole of the Pakistan and PPP are your personal property. Shame to those who tolerate such people. Nepotism is big curse all over.
Oct 01, 2012 09:45pm
Even with single nationality, they are not touchable. If one's residence is in Pakistan for certain time in last certain years then it should be okay I think. Overseas Pakistanis should be given National Assembly seats to contest from their country of residence. May be 3 seats for Europe, 5 for middle east, 3 for North and South America, 1 for Australia & New Zealand etc. Those people are sending lifeline money to Pakistan and they should get 5% representation in National Assembly for legislation I think.
Oct 01, 2012 09:45pm
I find most of the people confusing and mixing overseas Pakistanis with dual-nationality holders. Not all overseas Pakistanis have dual nationalities. Only Pakistanis with dual-nationality have been barred from contesting elections. Given the circumstances, it is the right decicion. If someone is so desparate to serve his or her country, then why not give up the other nationality. You can't ride two horses or two boats simultaniously.
Dr Satpal Jabbal
Oct 01, 2012 10:05pm
You should keep a LOW PROFILE for some times.
Oct 01, 2012 04:05pm
Well said.
Oct 01, 2012 07:21pm
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is old enough to think for himself, it is time he started to.
Oct 01, 2012 04:56pm
Overseas Pakistanis want best of both worlds.... What they want from us is $$$$, as for me life goes on , ignore this dude & the like.
Oct 01, 2012 08:40pm
What does he know about politics what is Pakistan coming to.
Oct 01, 2012 04:04pm
Well said. He is probably already a UK citizen. His father has a castle there and Chateau in France.
Oct 01, 2012 09:05pm
The tragedy of this country is that people like Bilawal think they are born for the sole ppurpose of ruling and lording over the populace. He knows nothing of politics, the problems faced by this country and the imperatives of our foreign policy. He should keep his mouth shut. We already have a number of Ministers etc. who are fully licensed to talk all kinds of nonsense.
Oct 01, 2012 08:41pm
if they want a say in Pakistan they should live in Pakistan.
Oct 01, 2012 08:30pm
Bilawal - Be quiet.
Oct 01, 2012 12:10pm
Oct 02, 2012 06:44pm
Excellent could not have a better comment .Love U man
Oct 01, 2012 04:36pm
First define overseas Pakistani - If one has immigrated i.e aquired permanant status of another country or has aquired Nationality of another country he/she has lost the right to vote and or get elected. You can be faithful to one country. You made the choice so live with it.
Samad Chaudhry
Oct 01, 2012 11:51am
I fully endorse your view
Oct 01, 2012 07:55am
Don't speak of rights, when you and ur family has taken billions away from the People of Pakistan! Give up politics beta! Yeh apki bas ki baat nahi hay!
Oct 02, 2012 06:59pm
wasnt he educated in the UK.and has spent most of his life here what makes him a Pakistani just because his mother was a leader of a party.
waleed raza
Oct 01, 2012 07:07am
Although i may agree upon right of vote to Pakistanis residing abroad ( for only those holding single nationality), it would be unfair to elect those residing abroad. As this would result in our elected representatives ruling from abroad. As they still are in country, it is hard to find them interacting with common man, If right to get elected is given then we might see that pakistan may become a colony of british era.
Oct 01, 2012 06:59am
USD$ have been jumped from Rs.60 to Rs.95 now.GBP is Rs.160 now.Well done PPP
Jamil khan
Oct 01, 2012 12:18pm
If overseas pakistanis cannot vote or take part in elections then, the scope of article 63 must be extended to include those who are part of the judiciary and bureaucracy civil/military. We must not at one hand restrict overseas pakistani from voting and contesting elections while at the same time, allow other organs of the state to be free from such restrictions. Doing so would be discriminatory and that in itself is enoungh for article 63 to be challenged just as the clause for degree holders was challenenged. Justifying the restriction of article 63 is done so on the notion of national security but what about the notion when ex military decide to settle overseas? Surely, now we cant say that national security of our country is not comprised when those ex military individuals after serving for decades finally decide that it's time to pack up and leave. Shouldn't the scope of article 63 be extended to cover those situations too? Same applies to the judge's, how do we know if they are doing a better job by holding two nationalities and the parliamentarians cannot ?
Abdullah Hussain
Oct 01, 2012 02:22pm
Overseas Pakistan's right to vote in the national election is correct and should be accepted with open arms, however the demand of some of the overseas Pakistanis to allow participation & a chance to get elected in all the three houses in Pakistan is wrong and should never be allowed. If anyone is so keen to take part in election then he or she should first give-up the other nationality. This is also applicable for Bilawal Zardari, in case he is also enjoying dual nationality then he should first terminate his 2nd nationality.
Oct 01, 2012 08:00am
I am an overseas pakistani with british citizenship and disagree with Bilawal's view that we should be allowed to vote and elect politicians. It's for pakistani's living in pakisitan who should decide who should have the final decision to vote for a politician who they consider fit to run the country. To be frank we don't exeprience the enormous difficulties which people in paksitan face every single day or shall I say every minute so why should I vote for politicians who I don't know about. Could it be that the most PPP memebers have dual citizenship including Bilawal? May be the ECP should check this information. And by the way, his title as Chairman is in name only and we all know who is running the PPP? They continue to fool pakistanis with their money and it's time pakistanis wake up to what is going on around them.
Oct 01, 2012 03:22pm
As an expatriate Pakistani, I support this view 100%
Oct 02, 2012 01:32pm
You are wrong. It allows an US citizens to vote. Early ballot takes place and one can go to the local consulate office and vote or do a mail in ballot
Oct 02, 2012 04:42am
Peoples problem should be solved as the PPP belived that peoples are strength for PPP.
Oct 01, 2012 11:22pm
I am an expatriate and I don't care one way or the other to have a right to vote or contest elections in Pakistan. It is the decision of the real citizens of Pakistan who are currently living in Pakistan. It may be decided via referendum and not by the current parliament. I propose that we add a covenant that for any dual nationality holder between 18 and 40 so desire to vote and/or contest elections in Pakistan; must actively, under score actively serve in the the Armed Forces of Pakistan for 2 years. No exception.
Oct 02, 2012 02:43am
Get use to him please since he is going to be one of the PMs if country survives.
Oct 02, 2012 05:25am
Anger eats away wisdom. Let people of Pakistan decide the fate of PPP. Elections in a democractic system are never too far. Patience and trust on people's collective voice (vote) is what democracy is based on. Only if we were democratic in our attitudes.
Haji Ashfaq
Oct 02, 2012 09:36am
He is learning.
Oct 02, 2012 05:34am
i disagree with your view. Overseas Pakistanis must have a right to vote and must be able to contest election as well without giving up on their acquired passport. Makes no sense.
Oct 02, 2012 03:44am
What a joke this country has become! The kid is uttering words and sentences that he himself doesn't know they mean. Who is coaching him? I hope not his father.
Oct 02, 2012 01:31pm
Lol good one . . .
iqbal Khan
Oct 01, 2012 07:31pm
I guess this guy has obtained British citizenship somehow and trying to clear his way to come in power.
Oct 01, 2012 11:28pm
A good point!
M khan
Oct 02, 2012 12:11am
And what about the hike in surcharge by PTA for international calls to Pakistan? A gift to expatriates from Bhutto's.
Oct 02, 2012 05:29am
I am also an overseas Pakistani. I see no harm in holders of dual nationality become elected representatives. However, on the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, President, and Governors this condition of having just Pakistani nationality may be considered. People need to ralize that getting elected to a public office is not a permanent job and you are dependent on a lot of factors to get re-elected. So, why give up dual nationality for a non-permanent job? Why can't our laws be based on human needs and human considerations?
Oct 02, 2012 08:14am
No unelected people had the right to question the loyalty of anyone elected by the people of Pakistan. But the people of Pakistan are the unelected people. No?
Oct 02, 2012 05:30am
I hope you can focus your energies on some positive thinking. But then Pakistan would become a normal country like so many others.
Abid Khan
Oct 02, 2012 03:54am
It is a very silly idea. Even America does not allow its citizens living abroad to vote only its military personal are allowed to vote abroad.
Oct 01, 2012 10:25am
May God help us!
Oct 01, 2012 02:45pm
If that was the case why did we kick the British out? Might as well we bow to your Queen too? Mr. Bilawal. What is your opinion on sharing sensitive and Nuclear natters with people who are actually US and UK citizen? Now, they are bound by law of their own countries to reveal sensitive information?
M. Asghar
Oct 01, 2012 10:30am
The best thing the citizens of the country can do is: do not believe a word, these feudal, absentee and tribal PPP members say from their foreign mansions!
Oct 01, 2012 05:46pm
Mr. Bilawal Bhutto plz give us the definition of overseas Pakisani, those who are working in Gulf countries and holding Pakistan nationality and sending most of the remittances in Pakistan,or the Pak Brits or holding USA, Canada or Australian nationality. What he means that Baroness Saeeda Warsi can be allowed to become Prime Minister of Pakistan. Plz clarify :)
Jalal Khan
Oct 01, 2012 02:02pm
This is our problem.! Poorest country led by rich waderas. This kid will be sorry one day!
nobble janjua
Oct 01, 2012 09:54am
Bilawal Zardari is playing the same cards which his grandfather Mr. Bhutto did decades ago. Only people to represent Pakistanis are those who are suffering with them and bear the brunt of all the misdeeds thrown on them by the bureauracy, landed gentry, overnight billionaires and members of the retired regimented elites. Those (so called Pakistanis) who denounce their Pakistani Nationality, enjoy the fruits of Social Servies of various European Countries, Americas or Canada cannot fathom the disillusionment, disappointments and deprivements of those Pakistanis, who did not have or have not got the means to leave their country for economic betterment.
Oct 01, 2012 04:07pm
Muhammad Ahsan KHAN
Oct 02, 2012 03:29pm
Any representative elected by the people does not automatically becomes a "democratic" head of the state. There are many examples: such as Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Napoleon (France)...and Musharraf (Pakistan). The present head of the state of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not elected by the people of Pakistan. He can not claim that he is the represetative of the "people". It is pity that Pakistani Politicians are unaware of "Political Science".
Oct 01, 2012 02:14pm
The new kid on the block trying to learn how to speak. Pakistanis don't need kids like you who have no attachment to the masses.
Oct 01, 2012 09:59am
This is known as pre-planning, himself being an outsider Pakistani. Bilawal is simply seeking part-time employment. He wants to be the next Pres, do his term and go home to UK, USA, Switzerland....
Rashed Chughtai
Oct 02, 2012 11:56pm
Looks who's talking ? Does any one know what Bill (our PM in waiting) is upto ?
Oct 02, 2012 11:38pm
I agree. In fact I will go a step further. Anyone who sits in the assembly as a law maker should not be allowed to have foreign bank accounts or residential or industrial real estate.
Oct 01, 2012 02:12pm
Sorry Mr. Bilawal, just because you are an overseas Pakistani does not mean you get the right because it suits you. And by the way you don't have to do any more circus on drone strikes, it's already so obvious who and who is not supporting it.
Oct 02, 2012 11:02pm
Prince Bilawal Zardari in action
Amjad Wyne
Oct 02, 2012 01:52pm
Thank you Dawn for promoting this prince. I like your idea of fraud-democracy.
Oct 01, 2012 10:38am
Would you rather have overseas Pakistanis return to Pakistan and join the millions of unemployed or do you want them to remain overseas and work and remit money to Pakistan? Pakistan owes a lot to those that leave their families and toil day and night to earn some money; a lot of which they remit back to Pakistan.
Hadi Sakey
Oct 01, 2012 11:26am
I thought Dawn newspaper had a standard. So much space for this novice . He wants to rule with a remote control and gives crammed statements.
Oct 01, 2012 10:41am
this is right step, the Pakistani living in abroad should be given a right to vote, Bilawal has suffered this in his childhood so he may feel it better. with this he must try to stop terror in pak because he has lost his mother in such activity. His commitment and leadership will be examined in coming parliamentary elections in Pakistan
Oct 01, 2012 10:48am
Most overseas Pakistanis are not sleeping on beds of roses. They work very hard to support themselves and their families abroad and in Pakistan. If not for their contributions, the economy of Pakistan would have been a lot worse. In return, the least Pakistan can do is allow them to vote.
Oct 01, 2012 03:02pm
He seems to be a British Citizen, Hence he advocates the cause!!!
Muhammad Asif
Oct 01, 2012 10:56am
"...have not got the means to leave their country for economic betterment." Height of hypocrisy. You are only loyal to your country when you have got the means to go abroad and you don't go.
Rana Naveed Ahmad
Oct 01, 2012 09:04am
in shape of bilawal, we are going to electing a dictator via democracy. To give the right of voting to foreigners pakistani means to allow rule them our us and to allow them to make constitution under which they are not going to live but is. i no need such a democracy who can not settle my problem. Pakistan ruled under PPP govt. shows worse example of governance but excellent play of how to rule. To vote bilawal because of son of baynazir is against soul of democracy.
Muhammad Akram
Oct 01, 2012 08:59am
So Mr Bilawal will not need to live in Pakistan. Is this what this is all about
Oct 01, 2012 01:28pm
Constitution of 1973, brainchild of ZA Bhutto, Bilawal's grandfather clearly states that dual nationals can't hold legislative position. What is he talking about ? He should ask his father AAZ to rewrite the clause in the constitution. He also should set aside his British accented English and speak Sindhi to communicate with his Sindhi jiyalas.
Moazzam Salim
Oct 01, 2012 07:43am
The provisions regarding disqualification of dual nationals are contained in the Constitution of 1973 for which PPP proudly takes credit. Has there been a shift in the PPP's policy on the dual nationals? if this is the case then why have they not tried to amend the Constitution accordingly?
Oct 01, 2012 08:48am
Overseas Pakistan should get a right to vote and 95% of them will vote for PTI ! But legislator should be a person who is bound to stay in Pakistan - not like PPP who loots Pakistan and run abroad when needed.
Akeel R
Oct 01, 2012 04:24pm
Who really care what he thinks..!!
Oct 01, 2012 04:08pm
I love your response. It's so true.
Syed W. Ali
Oct 01, 2012 01:22pm
Yes, the expatriates should be able to vote, but what's up with the "get elected" part? Mr Bilawal has studied at Oxford. How many countries can he name who allow for this provision and hold that to be in agreement with the national interests? If only for his father's sake, he should hold the idea of full commitment to the country sacred.
Oct 01, 2012 07:17pm
Yawar they should be allowed to vote but if they hold dual nationality they should not be allowed to sit in the assembly as law makers.
Alex Sal
Oct 01, 2012 07:16pm
They already can! Tell us something we dont know!
Oct 01, 2012 07:14pm
Mr Alvi don't ask for those 180 million people to respond. Why don't you take the lead and stand in the frontline. I am sure you and me are living a good life in a foreign country asuming that rest of the country going through all kinds of troubles will pave the way for you and me. If you realy don't like what is happening there, go there and start the protest, and maybe if you are for real, those 180 million will respond.
Usman Ajmal (@dodgy_helmet)
Oct 02, 2012 01:08am
Allow us to vote, Yes (and the EC is working on that). Hold a public office, a big NO. Simple rule, no need to muddy the waters like our Honourary Prince BB is doing. From An Overseas Pakistani
Oct 02, 2012 02:30am
Which planet does Bilawal live on? Living in UK/UK/Switzerland, and being an inhabitant of Presidency during the infrequent trips to his 'homeland', he has no right to count himself as the political leader of Pakistan. He simply 'inherited' the 'leadership' from his 'democratic' mother who made sure that PPP remains a family owned 'business'.
Oct 01, 2012 11:10pm
Do you really think that the hard working dual nationals are interested in getting elected? Obviously not. It is these same politicians who just want to secure foreign citizenship and legally be able to contest elections. So, if such time comes that they are held accountable, they could run away.