Zardari ‘could be kingmaker’


TESTING TIMES: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; and
(inset) his sisters Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari
and Aseefa Bhutto and father Asif Ali Zardari
TESTING TIMES: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari; and (inset) his sisters Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto and father Asif Ali Zardari

BHUTTO FAMILY SEEKS TO MAKE A MARK IN ELECTION PAKISTAN’S only major left-leaning political party is fighting for its electoral relevance and to preserve the legacy of the country’s best-known political dynasty weeks before the country heads to the polls. In his first election campaign, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the scion of the storied Bhutto family who now heads the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is attempting to recapture the support for his mother, two-time former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, enjoyed on her return from exile in 2007, before she was assassinated on the campaign trail. Party leaders insist the 29-year-old Bhutto, Oxford-educated like his mother and grandfather – also a former prime minister – brings a fresh new appeal to the party as it attempts to revive its waning fortunes in a general election called for July 25. “With Bilawal in the frontline of our campaign, we hope to see a huge swathe of young people join us in our journey to turn back the tide of extremism, misgovernance and anti-democratic trends,” PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said. Whether his father, former president Asif Ali Zardari, will be an asset or an obstacle in that effort remains a source of keen debate in Islamabad. Some analysts and party insiders say Zardari’s tainted image, the result of numerous corruption allegations, could cost the party at the polls, where it will contrast with opposition rival Imran Khan’s relentless anti-graft message. On the other hand, the most likely route back to power could be a post-election alliance with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Infasf (PTI), which has seemingly eclipsed the PPP in the past five years, and the former president would be a key figure in any such negotiations. Once the country’s most popular party, the PPP finds itself on the brink of political irrelevance at the national level,…

You do not have access to this content. You need to create an account.