ISLAMABAD: For the past three weeks, many second-tier leaders of the PPP from Sindh have been telling me in excited tones that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was all set to take full command and control of his party.
Addressing the dedicated crowd of workers on the auspicious occasion of his mother’s death anniversary in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on Dec 27, 2013, he even announced the decision of contesting for a National Assembly seat currently held by Ms Faryal Talpur, Asif Ali Zardari’s favourite sister.
Since most people promoting the story of Bilawal’s possible launch were not known for any deferential devotion to his father, I preferred to disregard the story told by them just like another conspiratorial whisper. But since Sunday evening, I have begun to have second thoughts, though.
The humiliating rout of the ruling Congress in some crucial state polls of India triggered these thoughts. Many commentators unanimously feel that the Congress has to endure the crushing defeat, simply because Rahul Gandhi miserably failed to furnish a new look for this party. While he mostly behaved as if indifferent to grab and build up the potential and promise associated with Nehru-Indira legacy, the BJP had ample time and space to charge up its base, especially after nominating a fiery Narendra Modi as its nominee for the prime ministerial slot. In New Delhi itself, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stunningly surfaced as a vibrant alternative to the Congress, which now appears as if symbolising everything bad and rotten in India.
Like it or not, Asif Ali Zardari is a smart player of power games. He needs no tutor for discovering that his full term of five-years has hardly produced any feel-good memories and many Pakistanis already feel too excited about the AAP-like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan. It is time for him to take a back seat and let Bilawal try his luck with the so-called youth bulge of this country, desperately wanting to tear down everything rotten with absolute rage.
The wretched performance of PPP legislators during the National Assembly sitting of Monday doubly exposed the rudderless state of this party these days. Not one of them seemed to have read and then was willing to take advantage of the reply that the government had provided in writing for the question hour.
In the context of exciting controversies that we keep witnessing whenever it comes to dual-nationality of our politicians and some key bureaucrats, a question had been posted to find out whether any judge of the superior courts also held the same status. Instead of furnishing clear answers to this question, the ‘sovereign house’ was made to fathom and live with the reality that the issue of dual-nationality had no relevance with appointments of judges to the supreme and high courts.
The PPP legislators also failed to stir a spirited debate on the issue of the appointment of a member of Indus River System Authority (IRSA). Through a calling-attention notice, Nawab Yousaf Talpur wanted to find out as to why the government could yet not appoint a federal nominee to this authority. Doing so, he also recalled that since 2000 the federal government always picked a member from Sindh to look after its interests in the said body. The government of a “Punjabi Nawaz Sharif” did not feel comfortable with this practice perhaps.
Abid Sher Ali always helps the PPP to play its ‘Sindh card’ vigorously. Even on Monday, he didn’t betray his rabble-rousing nature while dealing with a soft and elitist Nawab Talpur. He rather recalled rudely that in the flow of his dictatorial whims, General (retd) Musharraf unilaterally decided to appoint the Federal nominee to IRSA from Sindh. Doing so, he violated the law regulating the business of IRSA. Abid Sher Ali did not care to add that Musharraf made the said decision, primarily with the objective of selling the idea of building a dam at Kalabagh, which Sindh found hard to swallow for being put in the law riparian territory. Syed Naved Qamar and Nafisa Shah could have pushed the state minister of water and power with some cunningly put supplementary questions. Both of them were not present in the house, however, when their names were called.
Finally, we came to general discussion on the explosive issue of unbearable increase in various items of daily consumption. Ms Shazia Marri of the PPP initiated an overstretched round of shallow speechmaking on the subject that kept inducing yawns in the press gallery. In some ministerial chambers, many PML-N members were found anxiously discussing the possibility of Justice Ifikhar Chaudhry switching to full time and populist politics after his retirement.