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Of storytellers and young politicians

Published Jun 30, 2012 04:45pm


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A commonality between a career in movies and a career in politics in the Indian subcontinent is the fact that scions of the stars of yesteryear get a break in the respective arena a lot easily as compared to any new comer. However, for the general public there is a downside to this phenomenon prevailing in politics.

Nepotism leading to mediocrity in cinema is not very disturbing unless one happens to be Francis Ford Cupola, whereas mediocrity in politics is alarming because politics pervades everything from our foreign policy to food security. This nepotism is indeed a disguised form of monarchy, a ‘democratic monarchy’ that is, how ironic! I do not want to unreasonably eulogise our eastern neighbours but somehow they manage to do the same thing that we do but with much more maturity and by being a lot less pompous, be it something as fanciful as movies or as real as land reforms, devolution or even ‘democratic monarchy’.

Recently our Bilawal, the Bhutto of Zardari clan was in US with his dad and demanded an apology from Obama on the Salala killings. To be honest and harsh, if Obama has to lend his ear to a youngster then it would perhaps be Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook than Mr. Bhutto because what Zuckerberg has achieved is a result of his own talents. I do not doubt the young Bhutto’s talent but telling stories about how an elite archer from his family hit the bull’s eye does not make him an elite archer but only a storyteller. The charismatic Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto drew first blood in the 1970s with his sword (the election symbol of PPP was the sword at that time) and later it was his daughter, Benazir Bhutto who hit the bull’s eye with an arrow from her bow despite blatant victimisation by the Zia regime. Sadly Bilawal Bhutto, the Chairperson of arguably the largest political party of Pakistan has so far come up with nothing more than ‘Musharraf killed my mother’ and ‘Democracy is the best revenge’ rant.

Now, let us take a look at how the leadership of our eastern neighbor, India has done. When then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, his son Rahul was 21, a little older than what Bilawal was at the time of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination still he was not made the chairman of Congress, he did not even consider the option and continued his higher education unfettered. It was not until 2004 that Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics. Later in general elections the same year, he won the Lok Sabha seat from Amethi, his father’s former constituency. Amazingly, it was not until 2006 that Rahul Gandhi who is the current general secretary of Congress held any office in Indian National Congress.

In the 2009 General elections, Congress did very well in politically important Utter Pradesh (UP) and Rahul Gandhi’s extensive and tireless campaigning was credited for this revival. Still Rahul did not assume the office of Prime Minister of India despite suggestion from within the party, instead Manmohan Singh got the final nod. Rahul reiterated at this point that he wanted to consolidate Congress, shun divisive politics in India, mobilise youth and was needed more on that front. Though Congress did not do well in the 2012 Assembly elections, the decline in popularity being attributed to the economic policies of the central government, still Rahul did his part in campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, he apparently attended more than 200 rallies, slept in villagers' huts and even grew a beard to counterbalance the ultra sophisticated image his debonair looks give and to look like more of a man of the people. Rahul Gandhi despite having the opportunity of sitting on his heels and enjoying the highest office in the largest democracy of the world, has made it a point to connect with the people of India; he has been there and seen it all.

He has tasted success and suffered setbacks. This is how statesmen are made. He is not the only example of somebody in the younger generation of Indian politics who has come of age, Akhilash Yadev, the man behind the success of Samajwadi Party (SP) in the Utter Pradesh state assembly elections this year is another example. Akhilash Yadev is the son of Mulayam Singh Yadev, President of the Samajwadi Party and won his seat in UP state assembly elections for the first time in 2000 and after the state assembly elections of 2012, has now become the youngest Chief Minister of Utter Pradesh at the age of 38. Akhilesh instead of towing the old line re-invented his father’s party by conducting cycle rallies, using modern technology and opening up the party, hitherto accused of harbouring goondas (hooligans), to new ideas, means and ideology. The result was SP winning 224 seats in the UP assembly elections of 2012 as opposed to a mere 97 in 2007.

On the contrary, our political parties have young Bhuttos, Sharifs, Khosas, Chaudhrys and Khars presenting themselves as kings in waiting rather than servants of the people. They are mere storytellers, too afraid to be part of the story; and history has no place for storytellers. It mentions kings and even pawns if they are brave enough, but not the storytellers.

It is said only shrubs grow under oak trees, however, if one desires the grandeur of an oak then it would be sage to leave its shadow. The question is do our young politicians have the guts? Divulging the answer would be stating the obvious.

The writer is a civil servant. He blogs here and can be reached at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (55) Closed

Ali Jul 01, 2012 04:36am
One is democracy the other is demo crazy ----shame on democracy
nawaz Jul 01, 2012 07:23am
almost every body know what is right and wrong but still they vote for these people beacuse almost the whole society is morally corrupt. People like this who says the truth are very few and has no say in the potics.
iobserveall Jul 01, 2012 07:24am
On reading articles and blogs written by young Pakistanis I see that there are a lot of intelligent and thoughtful people and if they could let their voices be heard louder, then a good government could one day be elected. I have visited Pakistan and my opinion is that the people are good and honest and want only good for their families and country.
James Jul 01, 2012 07:37am
At a presentation in London I asked Fatima Bhutto whether their is any hope from the upcoming new generation of leaders namely Bilawal Zardari - now Bhutto and Hamza Nawaz - she commented that they are products of corruption and have embraced corruption - therefore there is no hope.
Rizvi Jul 01, 2012 08:53am
This means that the Pakistani Nation is still babies who love to hear, these storytellers that pretty sad its been going on for last 65 years. I say to Pakistani Nation to grow-up and smell the coffee.
Syed Jul 01, 2012 09:28pm
Sigh ... Sign again ... (that's my comment)
Albert Jul 01, 2012 01:00am
Mr Saadt I like to congrat!!! you to be brave and write the truth and fact. Mostly desi writers avoid to write fact to their readers. Write about pakistani police and american police. and keep security for yourself as well, God Bless
Taj Jun 30, 2012 10:26pm
Our so called young leaders are there to rob the poors and became richer. They live in west and come back to Pakistan to loot the country and creat big gap between rich and poor
ahmadali86 Jun 30, 2012 10:25pm
RAJNITI - An Indian movie bases on politics.
kanwal Jul 01, 2012 12:40pm
Democracy is the best revenge.
Muhammad Alvi Jul 01, 2012 01:03am
Everything that is said above is true. But this is only identifaication of the problem. What are all you guys going to do to solve this problem? Help electing young and capable people; Imran khan comes to my mind first.
Razzaq Jun 30, 2012 02:58pm
NO comparison of political styles Pakistan and India. One is democracy the other is Sham democracy.
sali Jun 30, 2012 02:58pm
A pakistani civil servent commenting on bilawal is brave!!!!
Aamir Jun 30, 2012 03:15pm
I totally agree with you. I don't know what right or qualifications they have to run a country of 180 million. Going by their parents standards of ethics and morality, I think these kids will be worse for the country.
Ali Jun 30, 2012 03:18pm
Amazing article. I wanted to do a comparison of Western politics and Eastern but this is much better. Could you please compare the western and Eastern police officers attitude next? Could such articles be published in other languages and also made part of school curriculum? Thank you for the wonderful article. Is it possible to publish a few side by side comparative pics of Rahul vs Bilawal in real action.
mirza Jun 30, 2012 03:37pm
gentlemen. these guys are in politics to make money, to consolidate their land holdings, mill ownerships, etc etc. They do not even know what "making a change means".
ahsen Jul 01, 2012 07:13pm
I can agree with you not more than what you said !! Dont you believe that recently DAWN has published articles from people who are least informed of the current situation of Pakistan ??
thethrone Jun 30, 2012 04:05pm
Well written but unfortunately our story teller is still shinning and promoting so called democracy!
Ahsen Jun 30, 2012 04:57pm
I dont like what is posted here , it sounds fake !!
Naveed A. Jami Jul 01, 2012 08:43am
I wonder what is the motivation and the driiving force behind these politicians, these eager to rule, young or old vultures are waiting to squeeze out whatever they can from Our Country.
daljeet Jun 30, 2012 06:12pm
It is very refreshing to read such honest comparison about the young politician . Great ,
Hindustani Jun 30, 2012 06:28pm
pakistan need a revolution .. coz now common person of pakisatn i guess are totataly fed up of thier corrupt regimes.. India despite its short comming is marching heavily strongly.. may aalah also bless pakistan and india pakistan be the next stories of success .. Amen !!
Atif Jul 01, 2012 03:04am
Sory sir.We have no comparison with india as The Indian Politians has a great Stature in political arena and pakistani Politicians have the lowest mentality and nothing more than lust in power and money.
ahmet abdulaziz Jul 01, 2012 03:57pm
very appreciable analysis
vinnienarayan Jul 02, 2012 10:02am
Nice article. Much as I would like to feel proud that the next gen politicos from India are a tad better than what I have read about in Pakistan, i would like to inform my pakistani brothers that the situation in India only looks rosy. Rahul _Gandhi is no example for anyone, he was born with a silver spoon and even today does not know anything about India. Everything he has done, dining with the poor and visiting the backward areas are done with an intention to get maximum footage on TV. He is being groomed to take over the throne. The Nehru family has usurped the Indian throne and unfortunately they will be the rulers of India for a very long time to come.. The same holds true for all the regional parties including SP, where Akhilesh Yadav is in power only to protect his assets and the ill gotten wealth of his father, Mulayam Yadav. Dynastic rule has entrenched itself all over India and in all states and we can see why even in India democracy is at best a poor joke !
Mohammad Ali Khan Jul 04, 2012 08:44am
Some thing in Pakistani culture which makes the Pakistanis to look for leaders, rather being a leader.Pakistanis need institutions to inculcate leaders.
Rashed Jul 01, 2012 08:00pm
Well written; whatever you say or we think, this guy (Bilawal Zardari alias Bhutto) will be PM of Pakistan one day. Very unfortunate but true. God Bless Pakistan and people of Pakistan.
Imran Jul 01, 2012 01:23pm
For them change is changing this villa for that or this private jet for a newer model.
raika45 Jul 01, 2012 12:05pm
I have no idea of the children of leaders mentioned,but Bilawal strikes a chord.A law graduate from a English university,I expected him to engage his brain before uttering such statements.Riding into politics on his father's shoulders using his mother's fame is a no, no.I don't think that the people of Pakistan are that gullible. Considering the fact that the father is under a cloud of suspicion regarding some Swiss hanky panky.
Rashed Jul 01, 2012 07:59pm
You must be one of the 'good' story tellers as well !!! Enjoy.
Riaz Jun 30, 2012 07:31pm
Very well written. A true fact! Has anyone ever asked Bilawal (I am not going to address him as Mr. Bhutto, as he is not, it is just a political name for him like people change their names in film industry to get famous), what exactly has he ever done for the country to deserve the co-chairmanship of the biggest political party of Pakistan? Aside from being the son and grand son of Bhuttos, what is he? A true fact is that he is nothing! Talking about democracy now - how is it democratic to make him the co-chairman of PPP using the method of a will? True democracy is when people get elected, not selected. Problem in Pakistan that the parties and political system is run by goons, and a common man doesn't want to argue anything against the goons. Trust me, one day when the common wake up and will get fed up with the trashy political system, that will be the end day for all these goons. I am very disappointed with army that they have done nothing so far to end this drama yet. We talk big when it comes to fight against the terrorism close and across the border, however, we do nothing to curb the political terrorism that is the main cause of current issues within the country. May Allah protect Pakistan! That's all I can pray and say.
Imran Baloch Jun 30, 2012 07:46pm
All well said and done. There are few question: Will we see any change in the future?...NO. Do we have any leadership coming from the masses?...NO. Is there any institutions or mushrooming place to get people to run the country?....NO Have we seen any leader coming from the masses? NO. (not people in exile, they are not leader, who have remote control). People who keep complaining about these families..ever voted?...NO So dear friends - if you cant change the above, why bother. Pakistan was made for Elites, ran by Elites, will be ruled by Elites. Just get some good Hollywood/Bollywood DVDs, and enjoy the life. Leave these people/families to run the country/nation. Dear Syed Saadat - very good job, no offense to you.
imran Jun 30, 2012 07:55pm
What really gets me is thier cronies who come to defend them on talk shows. No shame at all. Totally pathetic.
Ishaque Jun 30, 2012 08:27pm
It is very satisfying to see young Pakistani professionals expressing their well thought out and unbiased ideas in their blogs. Perhaps, such ideas will percolate into the psyche of young generation of Pakistanis who are in earnest interested in taking their country towards the 21st century.
imran Jun 30, 2012 09:02pm
At least no corruption allegation against him so far like his dad.Come on Bilawal
Indusonian Jun 30, 2012 09:13pm
He is not even a Bhutto, but have changed name just for exploitation and people are going to fall for that. One thing for sure, he is not going to do anything for this country and he is going to be PM of Pakistan if Pakistan remains a country.
@ahsheikh Jul 02, 2012 12:22am
This is not the right place to write such blog, you should have written this nice piece in some local newspapers. Hope you get me!!
indian Jul 01, 2012 06:04pm
Dear pakistani friends, when India is telling that attack on Mumbai was done by your fellow men and control room was in karachi, why not a single journalist is carrying a sting operation and reveal the truth , when india is giving names of people from Pakistan why cant journalist trace the truth,leave aside india and paksitan problem and do justice to your job pls find the truth and report in your local media
Tipu Jul 01, 2012 04:01am
grow up..!
salman ahmed Jun 30, 2012 02:16pm
good one
Atif Jun 30, 2012 01:48pm
Great article; however one small issue, BZB does not even qualify As a politician. One more thing, losing one's mother to assisination is the same as losing one's mother to cancer. The result in both cases is the same, but to use the first excuse to get votes or public sympathy is a shameless act. The true test of manhood is what a man does with his own hands and not live off hand-me-downs. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and for Pakistan for inheriting such a bad lot of potential future political leaders. The hope that after 20-30 odd years the current parliamentarians would be dead and be replaced by better public representatives is slowly vanishing away. Good luck Pakistan, may God save us all.
husain Jun 30, 2012 01:49pm
Young bhuttos, sharifs, khosas, chaudrys and khars are all pakistanis and pakistan is their kingdom - that is the difference - they have everything cooked up for them and have to make no efforts!
Adil Sayeed Jun 30, 2012 01:58pm
Great article. But PLEASE punctuate! And punctuate properly. I had to reread different sentences to make sense of what was being said. Anyway, good job. I especially loved how you described the young lot of Pakistani politicians as "presenting themselves as kings in waiting rather than servants of the people." Thumbs up!
ibraheem Jun 30, 2012 01:30pm
its our mistake that we accept these storytellers considering them our fate.....
ibraheem Jun 30, 2012 01:31pm
ibraheem Jun 30, 2012 01:13pm
very true sir. they are just story tellers. rightly said...........
mirzausman834 Jun 30, 2012 01:23pm
The last country I would've thought of in an argument against dynastic politics is India! Good intent, good message, you lost me with the glorification of the Nehru dynasty as some sort of example to follow.
annas Jun 30, 2012 01:07pm
Kudos, No one has ever written anything like this before, different and true!
Ajamal Jun 30, 2012 12:55pm
BBZ needs to go out and spend few weeks in the rural and smaller urban centers with 20-hours loadshedding to sweat it out in the first place. So far, his time in Pakistan has been spent at Bilawal House, Bhutto House and the Presidency.
Pervin Nasir Jun 30, 2012 12:52pm
well written.
Agha Ata Jul 01, 2012 07:34pm
I am sure, it must be very painful for you to think of all this to write this article. I can see how clear this comparison is that you made. There is nothing left to be said, but I may add two things. One is that political immaturity lies not with the son but with the father, who inspired him to be what he is dreaming of to be. He (I'm borrowing from Mr.Cowsjee) the accidental president almost forgot that accidents do not happen with plans. And the other thing is, that for the son to become a mature politician, it will be the nation who will pay for his follies for years, maybe decades, before the dana may or, most probably may not, fall into khak to become gule gulzar.
Syed Tirmizey Jul 01, 2012 01:34pm
What is fake about it? Would have been better if you had educated us of the fake ness in the article. They have to be part of the political process and win the heart of the voting public. They live in glass houses and tell us that greatest revenge is democracy. BBZ is nominated and enjoys the perks of the rulers. Has anyone seen him him in public ? They have to earn like rest of us
Rajnish Jun 30, 2012 12:36pm
The Sad truth is in the two Indian examples you used the only reason we know about them is because of their last names and not because of ability to govern or any other talent. Unfortunately political parties and the country of billion plus is run like family businesses.
Zahid Jul 02, 2012 05:21am
Well Done Mr. Saadat , Well done Dawn. This is what everyone I know talks about but to read about this ,,,, now that is refreshing... If I may add. Why not make it a rule .. or better make it the part of oath taking ...Once one desires to enter the office of any relevance in Pakistan they be required to spend next decade n Pakistan at the end of there term ...They be required to not maintain any residences, business interests overseas,,, before or after holding high profile offices. Mr. Saadat may be you should analyze and write about how Pakistan can afford to let the likes of Bhuttos, Musharrafs, Sharifs, Chaudhry's and countless military and civilian big wigs to just retire abroad.....
Dr. S M Younus Jafri Jul 09, 2012 10:21am
The author has thoughtfully highlighted the sad state of affairs of dominance of few families in politics and neglect of our youth for the future leadership. Nepotism and mediocrity of different shades are riding high in our politics, visible in democratic monarchy. To govern the country facing complex socio-economic and political problems requires highly educated, gender and ethnic neutral leadership. The young should takeover national leadership to provide unconventional solutions to our problems with local, national & global vision and knowledge supported by cumulative experience and credentials. Favorable environment exists for youth to bring change the way society,economy and politics are being governed. The writer deserves appreciation for pointing out the monopolistic behavior in our politics and weakness the way our system is nurturing future leadership.