Dr Muhammad Khan
Some of recent statements of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, have made headlines in the international and Indian media. His statements about implementing the National Action Plan with particular reference to banned organizations in Pakistan were picked up by Indian media and made use of in the favour of Indian narrative against Pakistan. In the National Assembly, Bilawal delivered a long speech in English language, criticizing the Government for its inaction against banned organizations but, putting three times elected Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in jail. Indirectly he also raised many objections on the role of institutions. Three salient aspects of his dubious speech include; one, the audience; he wanted to communicate an indirect message about. Two, the contents, that audience wanted to listen about and three, the timing of the speech, just within a week after Pakistani armed forces gave a befitting response to Indian incursion into Pakistani land. In no way, Bilawal meant the Pakistani audience or the honourable members of Parliament, directly listening his speech, since many in Parliament did not understand his speech in English and Urdu is national language of Pakistan.
Purposefully or otherwise, the audience were the international community and those forces, which have been critical to Pakistan and role of Pakistani armed forces. The Government has defence already started rounding-up the banned organizations, thus critic at this time seems inappropriate. In order to please international forces, Bilawal even said, “I do not believe that you arrested them rather than you took them in your protective custody so that they are not hit by Indian aircraft.” This is an ill intended statement, confessing that, you have such elements in Pakistan who really attacked at Pulwama in the IoK and that, Indian forces and aircraft are capable enough to hit them on Pakistani soil. This is amounting to authenticate the Indian view point by a Pakistan leader, the Chairman of PPP?
Indian media projected his speech and speeches and tweets thereafter as something dedicated for them. Similarly, the western media needed such a narrative from a rising Pakistani political figure, wearing two hats; Bhutto and Zardari. The contents of the speech were a true reflection of what Indian Government and United States officials have been accusing Pakistan and its security forces for decades. From the contents, one could deduce that the speech was written by those accusing Pakistan since last two decades. Started with a debate on finance bill, the contents of the speech clearly accused the institutions of Pakistan while apparently pointing towards Imran Khan and his Government. It was a smart move of Bilawal in which he charge-sheeted the institutions. The time of the speech was even smarter; praising the defence forces on one hand for shooting-down the two Indian aircraft and lambasting them for not punishing the people like Ehsanullah Ehsan or not putting behind bar the people of banned organizations. “If you have the courage summon Ehsanullah Ehsan and leaders of banned organisations.” The time of speech was very critical with respect to many things. Indeed, after shooting-down its two aircraft, Indian armed forces, Indian Government and Indian media were facing a lot of humiliation, thus had no agenda to talk or lambast Pakistan, its defence forces and ISI. Bilawal’s speech provided all of them with an immediate resuscitation and agenda too. After that speech and repeated imprudent reiterations, Indian Government and its media got sufficient quantifiable evidence and phony insight to blame Pakistan and implicate its institutions for what they have been harping on to mislead the international community and global media houses.
Besides, the timing of the speech is critical because, Mr Asif Zardari, the father of Mr Bilawal is under strongly evidenced charges of corruption and money laundering, he undertook being the President of Pakistan, the height of deceitfulness with the Oath, as head of the State. The speech was an effort to divert the attention from the inquires and accountability, Mr Zardari and his sister are facing since last few months. The courts and NAB are finalizing the cases of fraud and corruption, thus they needed something for rescue. The speech in English language, its loaded contents and above all the timings have been chosen with a lot of deliberation. Indeed, apart from its deliverance time and audience, the contents of the speech have been written by some intellectual, covering multiple aspects. Internationally, the speech writer projected Bilawal as a different leader, unlike current status qua politicians in Pakistan, man with a Western mind, ready to do anything. Domestically, the speech and follow-up actions of Bilawal were intended to hide the wide ranging corruption, Mr Zardari and his family are involved in.
For the political science experts and intellectuals, the speech, tweets and subsequent statements of Bilawal may have provided some respite to Zardari family for their corrupt practices but, it has made Bilawal part of this corrupt mafia, polluting his personality before he could have taken a positive leap forward. Besides, by strengthening the existing global narrative against Pakistan, Bilawal has ruined his status as a national politician of Pakistan, unless some miracle takes place. This is all because, Bilawal is Juvenile in the Politics of Pakistan and people with grey hairs in Pakistan People’s Party have played him!
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.