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Dec 13, 2016. Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday warned PM Nawaz in strongest possible language that if his 4-Point Agenda is not accepted by Dec, 27th, the 9th anniversary of his mother, Benazir Bhutto then PPP will show to him what opposition can do.

In October, while repeating the same demands in Larkana, Bilawal used softer language and conciliatory tone towards Nawaz Sharif. He denied, when questioned by a reporter,  that he had ever called Nawaz Sharif a ‘traitor’ and told reporter “not to put words in his mouth”.

Anti-Nawaz Drive if four points not accepted by Dec 27, say’s Bilawal Bhutto

But today, the same Bilawal Bhutto, surrounded by PPP leaders, including Senator Sherry Rehman and Farooq Naik, was spitting fire; he minced no words when he called Nawaz Sharif corrupt. He said that Nawaz does not care for country, he does not care for even his children whose political future he has ruined by hiding his ill gotten wealth under their names in western countries.

Chairman PPP switched continuously between English and Urdu – a technique he has recently started using very intelligently and which helps him emerge as a far more powerful and articulate speaker than he appears when he speaks only in his deficient Urdu. Referring to Nawaz Sharif as “Amir ul Momineen” (Caliph of Islam in early Umayad and Abbasid era) he questioned rhetorically that why Amir ul Momineen is not responding to his 4-Point Demands? and asserted that if his demands are not met, by Dec 27th, then PPP will let Nawaz understand what opposition means.

Political analysts wonder: What is Bilawal Bhutto up to?

Bilawal had presented his “Four Point Agenda” at the Shuhda’s Rally at Karsaz, Karachi on 17th October 2016 which was organized by PPP to commemorate the tragic death of more than 150 PPP workers and supporters when Benazir Bhutto’s home coming rally, from Karachi airport, on 17th October 2007 was attacked by a suicide bomber at Karsaz. These 4-Demands are:

  1. Re-constitute parliamentary committee on national security
  2. Pass Panama Bill drafted by Pakistan People’s Party
  3. Implement the resolution regarding CPEC
  4. Immediately appoint the foreign minister

Bilawal puts forth four demands, threatens long march

He has always maintained that Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, his PPP senior leader, was Pakistan’s foremost constitutional expert and he had moved the Panama leaks bill in the Senate after most opposition parties agreed on it. “I simply ask him (Nawaz Sharif) to get my bill pas­s­ed,” Bilawal has repeatedly said and argued that: “What is undemocratic in demanding this?”.

On 18th October, in Larkana, explaining the political offensive, Bilawal had said that a series of rallies and protests would be held to force the prime minister to step down. The prime minister must not have forgotten how forceful was the ‘Go Nawaz Go’ drive when it was launched by Ms Bhutto and what it had led to.

But Bilawal’s 4-Demands had first appeared when PTI’s leader, Imran Khan, was threatening to march on to Islamabad to force accountability on Panama Leaks. It was seen by political pundits as PPP’s own attempt to share political space created by Imran Khan and PTI’s fierce rhetoric against PM Nawaz Sharif. But where do these 4-Demands fit now is a relevant question.

From April and May till October, PTI negotiated with PPP and other parties to create a common alliance on the issue of Panama corruption. Panama Bill, which Bilawal continuously refers to and which forms part of his 4-Demands was an outcome of those multi-party negotiations. However PPP didn’t support PTI in its march on to Islamabad. PTI’s march collapsed under police action by the Nawaz government and a weakened PTI took refuge under a Supreme court willing to hear the petitions against Nawaz Sharif’s family. PPP leaders had expressed disappointment and severely criticized Imran Khan for accepting the supreme court pointing out that nothing will come out of it.

Supreme court hearings in the end have lead no where. With Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali’s retirement without any decision, and his replacement with Justice Saqib Nisar, the new Chief Justice who is considered close to PM Nawaz and who will decide the composition of the five member bench in January, it is widely believed that the Panama Corruption case is now practically over. Bilawal Bhutto has severely criticized Judiciary for his failure in this regards.

So question is: what Bilawal intends to achieve by his rhetorical threats to PM Nawaz Sharif. PMNL ministers and other commentators who appear in tv programs often treat PPP with kids gloves. It is generally believed, by political analysts, that PPP’s interests lie with the sustenance of Nawaz government, its focus in 2018 elections again will be to secure Sindh for itself; PPP therefore is not the real opposition at the center and only creates optics of a conflict to sell itself to lay public, especially in Punjab where it has been totally marginalized, as a robust opposition and to claim political space away from PTI’s platform.

Analysts also point out that nothing in Bilawal’s’ 4-Points is a real threat to PM Nawaz Sharif. PM, after the failure of PTI’s recent threats of “Blocking Islamabad”,Panama hearings reaching dead end in supreme court and recent transfer postings of top military officers as per his political needs is more strong and entrenched than ever before. He can now easily accept two or three of Bilawal’s demands – especially reconstituting parliamentary committee on national security or implementing the resolution on CPEC – giving him a much needed political success without jeopardizing his hold on politics or incurring any serious risks to his position. Nawaz Sharif is coming under lots of criticism from all sides for not having a full time foreign minister so appointing one cannot be ruled out in near future. PMNL shares PPP’s goal of marginalizing PTI from Pakistan’s political stage and if that means empowering Bilawal in a clever machiavellian move then it will be win win for both Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto.