The daughters of two the former prime ministers, Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, have been trending atop on social media since Monday after the pair led a Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Multan.
Maryam represented PML-N while Aseefa replaced coronavirus-infected PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, at the rally. This also marked her maiden entry into mainstream politics. The social media remained abuzz with videos and images of female leadership addressing and interacting with the charged-up crowd at various points.
— Rashid Bhatti (@psf______rashid) November 30, 2020
Several users likened Aseefa to her mother, Benazir Bhutto, who lost her life in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi in 2007.
Impressive wild card entry by @AseefaBZ in political arena of #Pakistan with a victory sign signaling retreat of ruling junta which boasted not to allow the jalsa on foundation day of #PPP
A political career launched by breaking down barriers. #AsefaSymbolOfResistence pic.twitter.com/umt7g1zQio
— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) November 30, 2020
Aseefa Bhutto has this uncanny resemblance to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, a younger version of BB – Looks graceful – Best of luck @AseefaBZ on her formal entry into mainstream politics. #PDMJalsaMultan pic.twitter.com/kgv4NOsFxy
— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) November 30, 2020
Maryam Nawaz or Aseefa Bhutto: Who did it better?
The impact of female leadership, of once opposing parties, jointly leading the caravans of protestors, overshadowed the core agenda of the rally. Both donned identical blue dresses, concerning the traditional handicraft, blue ajrak, of Multan.
Read more: Was PDM’s Multan rally legitimate?
Nawaz played out a bizarre stunt of standing on the car roof, being surrounded by the protestors, has been attracting unusual attention on Twitter. Meanwhile, Aseefa was spotted instructing the protestors to wear the mask as per coronavirus SOPs.
پی ڈی ایم پاور شو ملتان جلسہ،، آصفہ بھٹو کی کارکنوں کو ماسک پہننے کی ہدایت!!
— 24 News HD (@24NewsHD) November 30, 2020
بے خوف آزاد ہے جینا مجھے۔۔ pic.twitter.com/HmErIABAND
— Bilal Rizwan (@BilalRixwan1) November 30, 2020
— یَاسِفْ Yasif (@IamYasif) November 30, 2020
While Nawaz is developing a feat to pull the crowd at the political rallies, Aseefa also did a fair job in engaging with the protestors. The internet users, commentators, and analysts closely watched Aseefa, taking on the political legacy of her mother, Benazir Bhutto, ahead. She received a warm welcome from the protestors and attendees of the rally.
Not Maryam but this time, Aseefa is among the top social media trends. Monday’s PDM rally against the current government was significant for many reasons but the presence of Maryam and Aseefa cranked up its importance. Moreover, the social media even discussed that with the success of Aseefa Bhutto in Multan, is it time for Bilawal Bhutto to retire and let his sister lead the party.
Some suggested that Pakistan People Party should now invest in Aseefa if they want to survive in the politics of Pakistan. Aseefa in her speech mentioned that she will continue to lead the party until Bilawal Bhutto recovers from coronavirus.
Performative or real feminism?
There have been opposing views trending on Twitter-one group hails the participation of Maryam Nawaz and Aseefa Bhutto as the symbol of female empowerment others critically challenged these views and called it a pretense sketched out by parties to trick the nation.
And so I don't have the patience to deal with a romanticization of their participation/presence in the rallies as a feminist act. It's the same politics, just dressed up as a woman this time.
— mariam (@unearthedd) November 30, 2020
Many internet users added that merely changing a face does not underscore the fact that Maryam, Bilawal, and Aseefa are the faces of nepotism and dynastic politics in Pakistan. A critical analysis by one of the Twitter users mentioned that Maryam and Aseefa might have braved patriarchy within their parties but lack of vision and the continuation of the policies set by their predecessors is less likely to garner them a high office in the state.