Like mother, like daughter: Aseefa Bhutto Zardari should be the future of PPP, not Bilawal

Published: July 10, 2018
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Aseefa's sheer passion for politics and her ability to revolt against current party leaders shows she has a mind of her own that enables her to ask the right questions. PHOTO: TWITTER/ MEDIA CELL PPP

In many ways, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been a progressive political force for this country. The development and implementation of a democratic constitution by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (albeit flawed); the party’s staunch opposition against dictatorship; the fact that PPP gave Pakistan and the Muslim world its first female prime minister – all these factors have portrayed PPP in a forward-thinking, amicable light.

Hence, it comes as a shock that a party that was led by a woman for more than 20 years is finding it difficult to provide her daughter a nomination ticket for the General Assembly.

Recently, it was announced that Aseefa Bhutto Zardari has been given a Provincial Assembly ticket to stand for elections from PS-10 Rato Dero. However, she was not encouraged to stand for the General Assembly elections, unlike her brother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairperson of the PPP, who is contesting from two General Assembly seats, Larkana and Lyari, Karachi.

Living in a patriarchal society, this might not be an issue for most who dwell in Pakistan. This sight is all too common for them – the son getting a bigger platform to showcase his skills whereas the daughter is side-lined to a smaller stage, overshadowed by her brother. But should we expect the same trend from one of the biggest political parties in the country? Is this acceptable treatment for the daughter of a woman who broke the highest glass ceiling in Pakistani politics?

It shouldn’t be.

Moreover, this is unfair treatment towards Aseefa, not just by virtue of her being a woman or Benazir Bhutto’s daughter. Over the past few years, Aseefa has shown her merit to become a formidable leader for the party. She has raised her voice for party workers, questioned her father’s choices, and shown great interest in the politics of her country. The case is not the same for her other siblings; in fact, Bilawal was criticised during the 2013 Elections for his lacklustre presence, which might have caused further damage to the party, combined with his father’s dismal performance in the prior tenure.

Aseefa has a more charismatic personality compared to Bilawal. Her sheer passion for politics and her ability to revolt against current party leaders shows she has a mind of her own that enables her to ask the right questions. Calling out Khursheed Shah, a senior PPP leader, for his sexist remarks against fellow female MPAs during a parliamentary session, showed that Aseefa was willing to challenge archaic and sexist notions, even when they stemmed from her own party.

Her public disapproval of her father’s choice to include Irfanullah Marwat, who has been a controversial figure for PPP workers because of his role against them in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s tenure of 1990-93, showed that she is not hesitant to stand up against her father and his rather shady approach to politics. This also highlighted her commitment to follow her mother’s legacy.

In opposition, Bilawal has rarely been seen asserting his will or influence, even though he is the chairperson of the party.

Additionally, Aseefa has tried to expand her role and discuss issues related to health and education. Having a Master’s degree in Global Health and Development, she has the technical knowledge required to push for developmental programmes that would benefit her people. Being the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ambassador for Polio Eradication, and being the first famous child to have been administered the polio vaccine as a baby, she has highlighted time and again the importance of polio vaccines, and tried to diffuse the taboo associated with it. Her surprise visits to schools in Lyari and her discussions with students about the grievances they faced also showed her concern for this sector. One will expect her to work on these issues if she gets elected in the Provincial Assembly in the 2018 General Elections.

During her recent campaign for her brother, a few pictures were released that showed her interacting with her supporters the same way her mother used to mingle with them, making them feel special. Benazir, like her father, knew that it is the PPP workers and supporters that make the party a powerful force. Asif Ali Zardari and his party leaders did not place the same importance on their supporters, and this has led to the party’s decline in recent years. Perhaps with Aseefa, PPP has a new ray of hope to reconnect with its voter base.

Discarding Aseefa for her parents’ sins is unfair. She is young, and might be able to bring exactly the kind of new perspective that Pakistani politics needs today. Aseefa deserves a greater share in the limelight, because she is a much more promising leader than her brother might be or her father has ever been.

Faiq Lodhi

Faiq Lodhi

A journalism grad and news-buff, his interests include current affairs, arts, literature and social work. He tweets as @FaiqLodhi (twitter.com/FaiqLodhi)

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

  • Manzoor Ahmed

    Oh thanks. We can now support aristocracy instead of democracy. Let the sheep be lead by the wolves. You can even teach a parrot to be more civilized and give a speech.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    I agree..Recommend

  • Riyaz Alee Rajuwa Nagri

    you appreciated that Aseefa mimics his mother but she still need groom up while Bilawal has much interaction and groomed,this is soft type of propaganda which was done in the past against mohtramma tooRecommend

  • James Caan

    True !!Recommend

  • Zulfiqar Ali

    A poet’s beautiful lines fit here perfectly.

    Nateeja phir wohi hoga suna hai chaal badle ga
    Parinday bhi wohi hon gay, shikari jaal badle gaRecommend

  • Stupid Intelligent

    Zardari is on ECL now.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Mohtarma was one of the most corrupt politician in Pak history.
    Mohtarma’s father Zulfiqar broke up Pakland. Mohtarma’s husband
    also known as Mr.10% is currently on the Exit Control List. Court cases
    filed, alleging heavy duty money laundering.
    Not to mention Ayyan Ali with more than $500,000 in a suitcase on way
    to Dubai.
    Anybody remember 10 month old Bisma dying at the door of Jinnah Hospital, Karachi?
    She had measles, and a fever. Nothing serious. Just needed injections of antibiotics,…
    Baby Bhutto was inaugurating something inside the hospital,…maybe a fax machine…
    Baby Bhutto’s protocol would not let a 10 month old baby enter the hospital. She died
    outside on the footpath, smelling diesel/petrol fumes and in pain. Her blood is on Baby’s
    hands. No one should ever ever forget this callous VIP behavior. [Baby could have left
    instructions not to block serious/severe cases, or children from entering.. He did not do so.]
    To be running an election campaign on the coattails of dead politicians…?
    Or on the very corrupt and shady and undeniable credentials/reputation of the
    Party of Dead People From Garhi Khda Baksh, Sindh, is a waste of time and money.
    Sorry, Aseefa need to go back to London. Spend time pursuing other healthy interests.
    Like reading books, travelling, planting tomatoes, protecting puppies, doing gentle things…Recommend

  • Parvez

    As long as Zardari is alive …… all such thinking will be wishful thinking.Recommend

  • B. Servisoni

    Her style of speaking and pronunciation reminds me of Rahul Ghandi.Recommend

  • B. Servisoni

    The article when talking about brother over sister and about patriarchy misses the point that this is a political party and tickets must be issued and it’s leader *elected* after a democratic process within the party and not not because these individuals are “heirs” to a political party. What is this country heading towards?Recommend

  • Nasar Ullah Khan

    Oh please! It’s not like that politics is transferred to the younger generation through genes. I totally reject the concept of family politics. And everyone else should too. See the Khokhar family in Lahore. Whole family is going in for elections by holding the names of different parties. But infact its just a family. Have the writer been to interior sindh, he wouldnt be supporting PPP due to the zero performance.Recommend

  • UJ

    Why have elections then? Every incumbent can just nominate their daughter for the most coveted position and like Royalty, we can end up being governed by a specific gene pool.

    Real liberals, unlike the writer, would have rather promoted the idea of giving the leadership to a party worker who has given his/her blood and sweat for the party’s welfare.Recommend