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Can Bilawal end Pakistan’s international isolation?

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Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has claimed that PPP is the only party that can take Pakistan out of international isolation. In an attempt to motivate the party workers, he termed PPP as the only alternative available that has the capability to make Pakistan progressive.

The PPP chairman was trying to persuade the participants to get ready for the election campaign across the country.

Bilawal was speaking at the dinner hosted at Bilawal House, which included the legislators from federal and provincial assemblies, local party leaders and workers. Some of the notables present at the venue included Senator Sherry Rehman, Maula Bux Chandio, PP Women Wing President Faryal Talpur, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, President PPP Sindh Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, and other senior party leaders.

Read more: Zardari’s call for PPP’s return to power

Bilawal discussed the efforts of his party and glorified the achievements of the Sindh Government in the current tenure. He believed his party accomplished a lot, which is yet to be publicized across the country to exemplify the development of Sindh to persuade the voters to vote for PPP.

PPP’s young leader believed that the party was instrumental in improving the health facilities, revolutionizing the education system and constructed the road networks which accelerated the communication level.

Following the trend of opposition bashing in previous gatherings, Bilawal criticized Nawaz and Imran and loathed them for their respective deficiencies.

PTI came under severe backlash after reportedly releasing additional Rs. 277 million for Sami-ul Haq’s seminary, which has been a breeding ground for terrorists.

Bilawal was of the view that people are more concerned with increasing unemployment, poverty levels, and security situation rather than the rhetoric of “Mujhe Kyun Nikala”.

The PPP co-chairman attacked PTI chairman Imran Khan over his Taliban apologist allies. He blamed PTI for diverting the education funding to Maulana Sami-ul Haq’s seminary Darul Uloom Haqqania.

PTI came under severe backlash after reportedly releasing additional Rs. 277 million for Sami-ul Haq’s seminary, which has been a breeding ground for terrorists.  Since of its notable alumni include those who are the main accused in the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which is the reason that justifies PPP fierce criticism of the move.

Will Bilawal turn it around for PPP?

Discrediting political foes is easy. Convincing voters where one commands loyalty is very easy, but urging the potential or switch voters based on performance needs a practical implementation of party policies.

Using advertising campaigns to woo voters can work, but word of mouth, positive media coverage and encouraging economic data from the region plays a crucial role. Unfortunately for PPP, it seems to lacks on all fronts.

Recent by-polls across Punjab show that PPP is non-existent in most of Punjab. Even in urban centers like Lahore, it was a distant 4th finishing 1,414 voters behind Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah who secured 7,130 votes to finish at number three in NA-120 by-elections.

Read more: PPP and PML-N unite once again?

If PPP is to penetrate into Punjab, it would require a gigantic effort and an extraordinary turnaround, otherwise electoral damage in Zardari era seems irreparable and despite Bilawal’s political maturity looks too big a task.

Moreover, PPP as an opposition party presented a confused narrative where it didn’t challenge Nawaz completely and gave him breathing space whenever PML-N was challenged. This fact was apparent in the recent institutional confrontation where its senior leadership seemed disoriented and opted for a more balanced and guarded approach.

Bilawal Bhutto appears to have all the traits of a leader, which were on display in Davos, recently. But, as long as he will take dictation from Asif Ali Zardari, it seems, he won’t make much progress because Zardari as a brand lost its value a long time ago.

PPP remains the only liberal party that has a manifesto and policies that can potentially transform the image of the country and can put it on a more progressive and prosperous track if it eliminates corrupt elements in its ranks.

Read more: Nawaz’s rare outburst against Zardari exposes PPP-PML(N) tensions

It remains the only party which is not Taliban apologetic and has no links with religious fundamentalists, unlike many mainstream parties. PPP has desired policies but actions and implementation elude it.

Ground realities are different. The past does not favor Bilawal’s statement because governance and economic conditions were worse when PML-N took over in 2013, which even prompted the party’s own legislative members before and after 2013 to abandon the party for other potential winners.

PPP under Zardari failed to make an economically stronger and egalitarian Pakistan. Bilawal talks about eliminating inequality in income distribution between rich and poor. But PPP was neither able to decrease the growing disparity between rich and poor nor did the middle class grow in its last rule. On its current and past performance in Sindh and at the federal level, talks of defeating world powers united to isolate Pakistan looks a dream too far for Bilawal.


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