• Zardari seeks support for son, terms Balochistan ‘heart of Pakistan’
• Bilawal calls for new style of politics with no hatred and division
QUETTA: Amid rumours that the top PPP leadership has developed serious differences, party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday shared the stage at a rally in Quetta, where Mr Zardari, after having described Bilawal as inexperienced, said his son now had his own identity, while Bilawal seemed to toe his father’s line of political unity ahead of elections.
Addressing the rally at Quetta’s Ayub National Stadium to mark the PPP’s 56th foundation day,
Mr Zardari called Balochistan the “heart of Pakistan” but lamented that Islamabad and the other provinces did not share this view.
“Balochistan is the heart of Pakistan. And it is very important to win over this heart,” Mr Zardari said. “Without winning over the heart of Balochistan, we cannot fix Pakistan.”
Mr Zardari stressed that “grief” was prevalent in the province, which needed to be addressed. “We tried to do it in our time, but it was not enough,” he said, adding that PPP wanted the people of Balochistan to take ownership of their land and resources.
He said the PPP would ensure water was made accessible for the people of the province. “Pakistan becomes an export country when Balochistan has [access to] water,” he said.
Commenting on his son, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the former president — in an apparent slip of the tongue — said, “My son, by becoming the youngest prime minister of Pakistan, raised Pakistan’s honour and flag.”
During the previous coalition government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Mr Bilawal served as the foreign minister, the youngest ever to do so.
“Everyone knows him now,” Mr Zardari said of Mr Bilawal. “Some knew him because of his mother, some people knew him because of his father, and some knew him because of his grandfather. But today, they know him because of his own identity,” he said.
‘New ideology, new politics’
In his speech, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the country direly needed a “new ideology” and the politics of division and hatred should be discarded.
“The PPP wants to start a new system of politics in the country where our opponent would not be any particular party or politician. Instead, our opponent would be poverty, unemployment and inflation,” he told the participants.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan needs young visionary leadership to bring the country out of economic and other crises.
“Pakistan needs the leadership which ends hatred, stop dividing the people, unite the people of the country and resolve the issues of youths, who account for 70 per cent of the country’s population,” he said. “I am young myself, so I can understand their problems and thinking.”
“They are not the Muslim League anymore. They are the Mehngai (Inflation) League,” he said, referring to the PML-N.
No other political party was prepared for the upcoming elections, he emphasised, adding that the PPP would give a surprise in the Feb 8 elections as the next prime minister and the chief ministers of all four provinces would be from his party.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023