Unimpressed and unmoved by Bilawal Bhutto’s speech

Published: October 19, 2013

Bilawal Bhutto gestures while addressing party workers in Karachi. PHOTO: ONLINE

Bilawal Bhutto’s speech at Karachi’s Karsaz on the sixth anniversary of the unfortunate Oct 18, 2007 bombings has created quite a stir. As a son who lost a brave mother to rabid radicalisation, one feels that the emotionally-charged display of passion in front of an audience of die-hard jiyalas was all but natural, and perfectly anticipated. 

Towing the line of populist politics introduced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Bilawal did a good job with a crowd that seemed to be only following half of what their 26-year-old chairman conveyed. His body language apparently conveyed the remaining half, complete with waving fists and suggestive eye-balling. Bilawal’s script-writers did what they were paid to do; sensationalised the return of the Chairman, now officially eligible to contest a seat in the National Assembly.

The speech itself somehow reminded me of the 2010 British historical drama film The King’s Speech. 

And it reminded me of how dynastic politics still rules the roost in Pakistan. Democracy might have found its footing but electoral politics in Pakistan still remains a family enterprise, under the stranglehold of a few, mostly feudal families.

As an Oxford educated youngster entering the realm of politics dominated mostly by fake degree holders, I would’ve expected a shift from realpolitik and a more mature approach towards the teething issues Pakistan faces today rather than the usual lambasting of rival political parties.

Referring to PML-N, for example, Bilawal stated that PPP would defeat the ‘lion’ and that “the belly of the lion is filled with the blood of poor people!”

It seems as though populist politics in Pakistan  comes with the condition to verbally assault political rivals to establish supremacy. Living up to his Twitter persona of a born-with-a-golden-spoon college grad, Bilawal was determined to settle scores with long-time tsunami-swept rivals. He stated that PPP “will liberate the people from that storm,” and even pledged that his party was not ‘cowardly’ like the PTI.

The chairman’s  remarks contradicted the party’s official friendly opposition stance but we still expect PPP zealots desperately try to justify their Chairman’s position, even if it makes zilch sense.

This is not new in personality-centered politics of Pakistan where an intellectual like Asad Umar of PTI has had to backtrack on his statements multiple times to appease party leadership.

Pakistan’s political landscape has largely remained an oligarchy, with industrialists and feudal landlords ushered in with patronage of military rulers. However, now it seems to be slowly transforming and untangling itself from the stranglehold of a narrow power elite, which is heartening to see.

Bilawal and others of the clan should realise that their diatribes are now understood and debated upon in a completely different perspective, where rationality rules and sensationalism is out-ruled.

PPP’s stance on extremism and rejecting terrorism has, beyond doubt,  always been unwavering. However, action and not mere jingoism can restore peace in the country. Zamurd Khan’s heroism in Islamabad does not relieve PPP of its inability to draft an effective counter-terrorism policy in its 5 year rule. Banning telephone and internet services every now and then is not a long-term solution, and the ‘pappu bachas’ Bilawal refers to are not naive either.

Bilawal’s uppity demeanour and outright ridicule of all rival parties smelled of feudal haughtiness.

Sporting Sindhi t-shirts and badmouthing rivals gets you a few re-tweets at the most, and alienates you from the rest of the country. We do not expect a 26-year-old to jump into policy making and constitutional reform, but a knowledge of the country’s dynamics and a sense of entitlement for the country is the least we expect.

The sense of dynastic entitlement that has been dominating Pakistan’s political culture is slowly diminishing and the youth of today no longer believes in political idol worship. This year’s election outcome should have made it clear!


Jalal Awan

An electrical engineer working at Engro, the writer is an avid freelancer and an aspiring entrepreneur who takes keen interest in politics and current affairs. He tweets at @jalal_awan (twitter.com/jalal_awan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Noman Ansari

    OK why the heck we buying into this and calling him Bilawal Bhutto? He is Bilawal Zardari. Come on guys! Please.Recommend

  • Custard_Pie_In_Your_Face

    If I never hear the name Bhutto again it won’t be a moment too soon. They’ve turned Pakistan into a family heirloom.Recommend

  • faizaan

    the nation should be prepared to hear the same speeches from the same person and if needed, his sisters for the next 40-50 years.Recommend

  • Ovais

    Who the hell is bilawal zardari … he is not a pakistani for all i know :pRecommend

  • Pappu

    This bachagana speech reminds me many similar speeches by imran khan before elections.Recommend

  • Hatim

    Bhutto will be an important pawn. I don’t think he has the mental capacity to make any real decisions but there will be a tussle between the real powers in controlling him.Recommend

  • blue bird

    he is telling truth. he is not the populist politician but imran khan and nawaz sharif are.

    imran khans taliban appeasement policies have emboldened terrorists and they are on a killing spree. nawaz sharifa alliance with sectarian groups is well known.

    and please dont talk about his ‘uppity demeanour and outright ridicule of parties’ , it is the hallmark of imran khan. you know the things he has said againt nawaz and others dont you??Recommend

  • LUMinite

    Bravo for the courageous write-up Mr Awan, but seems like you’re gonna be joining one of them ‘rival political parties’ soon!
    that said, his uppity demeanour truly reflected of a feudal attitude, reminded me of the jatoi kid. Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    Right said Noman….But Didn’t Zardari officially changed Bilawal’s name to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari a few years ago ??Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    By the way..haven’t seen anything from you for long….!!Recommend

  • Ayla Shahid

    This is a slap in the face of all those who consider politics their heirloom and personal jageer. We’ve had enough of bloodline politics, its time the political landscape changed for the better.

    Talpurs, bhuttos, mians, magsis and gabols have had enough time to prove their worth. its time new faces take center stage. Kudos for this honest piece of writing, Jalal. Not siding with ANY mainstream political party and openly challenging status quo! Godspeed!


  • Soldier

    Let the army intervene! =p
    No to demoncracy!Recommend

  • boco

    To be fair that is his legal middle name, just like Mary Jane Watson is referred to as Mary Jane and Sarah Jessica Parker is referred to as Sarah Jessica without using their last namesBilawal Bhutto Zardari is referred to as Bilawal BhuttoRecommend

  • blue bird

    where is my comment??Recommend

  • Asim

    Its a nice article overall but I didnt like some of the arguments. For instance
    “….youth of today no longer believes in political idol worship. This year’s election outcome should have made it clear”. PMLN won in Punjab, Bilawals PPP in Sindh and PTI in KPK so from which part of Pakistan’s outcome did you deduce that youth of today no longer believes in POLITICAL IDOL WORSHIP??

    “Bilawal and others of the clan should realise that their diatribes are
    now understood and debated upon in a completely different perspective,
    where rationality rules and sensationalism is out-ruled.”…. So you seriously think that 80% poverty stricken Pakistanis or people who cast votes to Bhutto’s grave are capable of understanding and debating his diatribes? He is doing exactly what is required in a country like Pakistan to increase his chances of becoming PM.Recommend

  • Jalal Awan

    I never idolised IK or NS but simply expected better from the bhutto kid. I simply anticipated a more mature maiden speech as Chairman but bilawal’s Oxford education doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. the same vitriol, same badmouthing, same hollow sloganeering..Recommend

  • Jalal Awan

    See, we’re still stuck with brandname Bhutto..! :/Recommend

  • Jalal Awan

    Unfortunately, yes! Them and the legharis, jatois, magsis, chandios et al.Recommend

  • Jalal Awan

    Appreciate that ayla.Recommend

  • gp65

    Well the point this article is making and one I agree with is that it should nt matter if his name is Bhutto or Zardari. Sadly we have this disease in India as well. Where Amul Baby gets disproportionate attention based on non-existent achievements,Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    Bhutto is not Bilawal’s middle name. “Bhutto” was added to his name to milk the legacy of Bhuttos for political reasons.Recommend

  • Name Nazi

    His Name was originally Bilawal Zardari only. Zardari and Bhutto are two entirely different clans/tribes. Zardari was his fathers last name and Bhutto was his mothers last name. His name was changed after BB’s death. For e.g his name just sounds like Bilawal Cheema Waraich or Bilawal Rajput Khar, Ridiculous right?Recommend

  • deliveryguy

    the writer needs to get a security escort now. asap.Recommend

  • boco

    I understand that he later adopted his mother’s maiden name as his middle name in honor of his mother or to milk the legacy of brand Bhutto either way that is his middle name (second name) now so lets just deal with it.Recommend

  • Satesh Kumar

    Apart everything, this speech reminded me of the legendary speech by ‘Chatur’ in Indian movie “3 Idiots”. When Chatur says “Matlab nahin chaye Doobe gee, I will memorize it”. Exactly, this is what Bilawal has done, he may not know the meaning of the words of speech that is why he said, for example, “Soonami ka soohhlaaab”.Recommend

  • downwithpti

    Boased bickering awanji..Recommend

  • Khalq e Khuda

    The youth today does not believe in political idol worship but voted for charismatic but a clearly confused leader devoid of substance because his star credentials as a cricketer. Irony much?!Recommend

  • Khalq e Khuda

    Maybe he is learning that hate works in this country, worked for Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and even the Taliban who take it to another level but are still more popular than PPP.Recommend

  • siddiqui

    we wasting our time to comet it is better read quran with meaning and understand and apply in there lifeRecommend

  • Sallu

    One of the best written blogs in recent times!Recommend

  • BBZ who??

    call it hate speech not a proper speech!!
    there should be some diff btw him and the other uneducated politicians of our country!! sadly he disappointed me and im sure even Mr Bhutto!!!Recommend

  • Donga Bonga

    Noman is it you who decides what name one should chose for him/herself?
    (P.S. No I don’t like Bilawal and Bhutto clan at all)Recommend

  • Muhammad Saim

    If Bilawal takes pride in Bhutto, the man who destroyed Pakistan’s Industry, the man who put Pakistan Shipping, Railways, PIA on reverse gear, the man who introduced religious extremism in politics, the man who betrayed his homeland in 1965 war for personal political gains, the man who put final nails in coffins of East Pakistan, the man who put Pakistan on path to energy crisis by diverting nuclear program from energy to bomb and by politicizing the construction of third major hydroelectric project (KalaBagh Dam)………..then who are we to deny Bilawal his wish!!!Recommend

  • donga bonga

    oh NoooooooooooooooooRecommend

  • Muntaha

    Haha.. this wrote-up has created quite a stir. Billoo Badsha getting personal wid the author, claiming ‘character assassissination’, did u hear that? Character! the irony is unmistakable. lol.Recommend

  • Man with a Migrane

    Then why are you reading this news ???Recommend

  • Ayla Shahid

    you forgot Asad Umar whom Islamabad’s non political pappu bachas supported for NA 48! This is not idol worship, if IK’s kids brought up in UK end up as Chairman and Opposition Leaders, simply based on IKs charisma, that is idol worship. BBZ has been cashing ZAB’s charisma, no feathers in his cap.Recommend

  • HamidM

    Are you sure? It’s yet another fascist IK follower gaining public sympathy and stealing the limelight.. or trying to!Recommend

  • donga bonga
  • JavedZ

    Bilawal for Opposition Leader In NA!
    His gf in Oxford said he was quitting oxford for politics? Can anyone confirm the veracity of the tweet?Recommend

  • Abeer

    Oh my God. Another PTI-hater by default. Clearly you don’t like people who have their heads set straight, right?Recommend

  • Bookie

    Mein shartiya kehta hun Bilawal ki speech “Urlish” mein likkhi hoi thi…roman english!!
    He can’t read Urdu, National language….Recommend

  • ZindaBhaag

    ‘The chairman’s remarks contradicted the party’s official friendly opposition stance but we still expect PPP zealots desperately try to justify their Chairman’s position, even if it makes zilch sense.’
    Jalal, shud read today’s ‘explanation’ from Bilawal House in a crudely written blog. You were right, desperateely justifying foolishness.Recommend

  • Abdul Rafay

    although his speech was good but how could he understand the culture,thought and taste of pakistanezzz after he has lived his 95% life in foreign country. he can`t be a true and sensior leader but he can be a best popit and toy of our leader for dynstic politicsRecommend

  • Abdul Rafay

    although he did a very good script speech but how could we think that we choose a person who has lived his 98%time period in foreing country and he can understand the culture,affairs and thoughts and taste of pakistanez…he can`t be good sincere leader but he can be sincere popit and toy of our dynstic politician…..?Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    That’s the same as the “Gandhi” clan in India, Indira Gandhi married Feroze Gandhi, so technically she was Indira Nehru Gandhi, but she insisted on using “Gandhi” last nameRecommend

  • Guest

    I have seen many girls adopting mother’s name, perhaps this is the first case where I am seeing a boy adopting mother’s name..Well that goes to show his love for mother; you never know :)Recommend

  • sheraz

    if all that true.. why majority still votes on bhutto’s name :) he was the best and will remain.Recommend

  • sheraz

    PPP leaders are the only ones who gave their life for this country. RespectRecommend

  • sheraz

    coz people only understand this language not the oxford 1.Recommend