Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
|Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party|
|Assumed office |
30 December 2007
|Preceded by||Benazir Bhutto|
|Member of the National Assembly|
|Assumed office |
13 August 2018
|Chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights|
|Assumed office |
5 March 2019
|Born||21 September 1988|
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
|Political party||Pakistan Peoples Party|
Asif Ali Zardari
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (بلاول بھٹو زرداری; born 21 September 1988) is a Pakistani politician and the current chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party. A member of the politically prominent Bhutto and Zardari families, he is the son of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto Zardari became a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan on 13 August 2018 and contested for the 2018 Pakistani general election, however he lost the elections to Imran Khan.
Early life and background
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was born at the Lady Dufferin Hospital in Karachi, Sindh, on 21 September 1988 to former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and her husband, former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari. He is the maternal grandson of former President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his wife Nusrat Bhutto. His paternal grandfather, Hakim Ali Zardari, was a politician and a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. From his mother's side, he is the nephew of politicians Murtaza Bhutto and Shahnawaz Bhutto, and from his father's side, his aunts are politicians Azra Peechoho and Faryal Talpur. Politician Ghinwa Bhutto is his aunt by marriage, and poet Fatima Bhutto, is his cousin. He is of Sindhi descent on his maternal side and Baloch descent on his paternal side.
For early education, Bhutto Zardari attended Karachi Grammar School in Karachi, Froebel's International School in Islamabad before going into exile to Dubai in 1999 along with his mother. In Dubai he attended the Rashid School For Boys. For further studies, he followed in the footsteps of both his mother and his grandfather and applied to Oxford University, where he was accepted to read Modern History and Politics at Christ Church, receiving his degree in Bachelor of Arts in 2012 (later promoted to an Master of Arts by seniority).
Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party and 2018 general elections
Bhutto Zardari was appointed as a Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on 30 December 2007, at the age of 19. On this occasion he recalled his martyred mother, "My mother always said that democracy is the best revenge".
On 28 June 2018, PPP, under Bhutto Zardari became the first political party to unveil its election manifesto for the 2018 General Elections. This was the 10th manifesto by the party and was titled, Bibi ka Waada Nibhaana Hai Pakistan Bachana Hai (We have to fulfill Benazir's promise and save Pakistan). At an event unveiling the manifesto, Bilawal said that if given the opportunity, the party would focus on implementing a poverty eradication programme. PPP kicked off its election campaign on 30 June 2018, as Nhutto Zardari inaugurated their election office in Lyari, Karachi.
In the Pakistan general elections held on 25 July 2018, Pakistan Peoples Party, under the leadership of Bhutto Zardari, contested the elections and emerged as the largest party in Sindh and third largest party of Pakistan. The party won 43 seats in the National Assembly - nine more seats than in 2013 General Elections. Bhutto Zardari contested from Karachi District South (NA-246), Malakand (NA-8) as well as Larkana (NA-200). He won from Larkana with 84, 426 votes, having lost from two of the other constituencies to the Imran Khan-founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates.
The PPP scion claimed that rigging took place before and after the elections, adding that across Pakistan polling agents were expelled from the polling stations. "We are a part of the parliament to support the democratic we will ignore the discrepancies in the election," he remarked, demanding a probe into rigging allegations.
Member of the National Assembly
On 13 August 2018, Bhutto Zardari became a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. In his first speech in the parliament on 17 August 2018, he was proud to be elected member of the prestigious house. Journalists, Politicians and people of Pakistan were all praise for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bhutto Zardari after he delivered his maiden speech in the parliament. In his speech, he asked Imran Khan to fulfill his promise of rooting out corruption, resolving water crisis and providing ten million jobs and 5 million houses to the people during his tenure.
The speech received positive reception from both, mainstream and social media, as well as other prominent politicians, and marked a significant moment in Bilawal's emergence as a politician. This is the speech where Bhutto Zardari coined the term 'PM Select' for Imran Khan who sworn in as Prime Minister Pakistan after a controversial General Elections of 2018. He also said that Imran Khan is the prime minister of ‘donkeys’ and ‘living corpses’ as used to refer to people of Pakistan before becoming the Prime Minister.
Committee for Human Rights
On 5 March 2019, Bhutto Zardari was elected – unopposed - as the chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights. In its first meeting on 18 April 2019, the committee deliberated on The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, 2018, moved by the ministry and The National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Support for 18th Amendment
Bhutto Zardari has repeatedly criticized the One Unit system and warned against any attempt to bring in the presidential system, explaining that it will not be in the interest of democracy. During a press talk at a conference on 27 April 2019, he stated, "Presidential system is neither in the interest of the country nor the federation and all democratic forces will resist any such move," adding that the presidential form of government had failed wherever it had been enforced. "There is no provision in our laws for conducting referendum."
Freedom of expression
A devout advocate for democracy, Bhutto Zardari has repeatedly denounced censorship and likened any forms of curbing media freedom to living under a dictatorship. He made a speech at the Karachi Press Club on World Press Freedom Day where he said, "An undeclared censorship is stifling the freedom of expression in Pakistan and journalists are coming under threat from state and non-state actors. He added, "Journalists and media persons as human rights defenders suffer the most when freedom of expression is stifled. After the right to life, the most important right is the right of expression and the freedom of association because all other rights cannot even be articulated without it." 
During the speech, he also to criticized the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 and stated that it had been misapplied to stifle dissent.
Bhutto Zardari is a strong advocate of "peaceful, progressive, prosperous, democratic Pakistan", what he calls his mother's vision. In an interview with the BBC, he said that his 2018 election campaign was to implement these principles. He is a strong supporter of women's empowerment and believes in empowering women and taking them on board in all matters is the sole guarantee of country's progress.
On the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child, the PPP chairman said that a future based on progress and prosperity could remain a dream without empowering girls and taking them on board in all matters. Bhutto Zardari acknowledged all those women who stepped forward in all sections of life and field while defeating many impediments at every level and social taboos. He specifically named Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jehangir and Maryam Mukhtar.
On 17 March 2019, Bhutto Zardari met with a delegation of women's rights activists led by Sheema Kirmani and assured his support for their cause. A statement released by Bilawal House later said that his party would not tolerate any offence against the struggle for gender equality and women's rights. The statement went further to read, "The PPP chairman extended his enduring support to the members of the Aurat March and its activists who are struggling for their genuine and legitimate rights as enshrined in the unanimous constitution of Pakistan."
Bhutto Zardari has also advocated for the abolishment of child marriages in Pakistan. The Sindh government under PPP abolished child marriages by making the legal marriage age eighteen years in the province under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013. He as member of opposition in the National Assembly has also advocated that the legal marriage age should be made eighteen years across the country. On 4 May 2019 he tweeted, "UAE marriage age is 18, Indonesia is 18 and Turkey is also 18. Are they not Muslim countries? In Sindh where marriage age is 18, we saw how law stopped an adult marrying a 10-year-old! Every 20 minutes a girl dies in Pakistan as a result of underage pregnancy. #EndChildMarriage."
Bhutto Zardari has repeatedly defended the rights of minorities in Pakistan. On 4 December 2012, in a statement responding to reports about demolition of a Hindu temple in Karachi and a desecration of an Ahmadia graveyard in Lahore he said, "Our forefathers did not sacrifice their lives for an intolerant, extremist, sectarian and authoritarian Pakistan. I appeal to all of you to rise up and defend Jinnah’s Pakistan. My party and I will stand by you, shoulder to shoulder."
During a cake cutting ceremony for Christmas in Karachi, on 25 December 2018, Bhutto Zardari said, the PPP is the custodian of social justice, parity, religious and interfaith harmony in the country and its advocacy for the prevalence of peace and tranquility across the world is heavily established.
At the memorial for the 7th death anniversary of former Federal Minister of Interfaith Harmony, Shahbaz Bhatti on 3 March 2018, Bhutto Zardari said, "May I take this opportunity to say that we share the concerns over the misuse of blasphemy laws. This is the concern of not only the Christian community but of all of us. It is my concern too. These laws have been used as a tool by extremists to settle personal scores. They have been used to grab properties of Christians and other non-Muslims. The blasphemy laws carry mandatory death penalty. We must prevent their misuse. We will."
On 20 September 2014, while speaking to party workers in Multan, Bhutto Zardari said, "I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single in of it because, like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan." The statement was to be the first marking his stance on the Kashmir issue and remarked upon widely in local and international media.
On 6 February 2019, Bhutto Zardari met with the Kashmir Council in Washington to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. During the meeting, he assured the delegation that he would continue to raise voice against the brutalities of Indian forces against innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people at every available forum both nationally and internationally. He said that loyalty to the cause of Kashmir was in his blood and he would stand with the people of Indian-Held Kashmir in their just struggle for right to self-determination and freedom from illegal and immoral Indian occupation.
On 18 February 2018 while addressing a function in Washington, Bhutto Zardari said that there is a growing increase in terrorism in Pakistan and that democracy can win over extremism, but the biggest battle is of ideologies. "The battle is between modernity and extremism."
Bhutto Zardari has also repeatedly criticized the government's resistance of implementing the National Action Plan, which he deems resistance to democracy and peace in the nation. He has also demanded the removal of three federal ministers accusing them of having connections with banned militant outfits. On 7 March 2019, during a provincial council meeting, Bhutto Zardari said, "I demand a joint parliamentary committee for implementation of National Action Plan and removal of all three federal ministers for their connection with extremist organisations. If our demands are not met, we will not support the government any move."
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- BilawalBhuttoZardari (3 May 2019). "UAE marriage age is 18, Indonesia is 18 & Turkey is also 18. Are they not Muslim countries? In Sindh where marriage age is 18, we saw how law stopped an adult marrying a 10 year old! Every 20 minutes a girl dies in Pakistan as a result of underage pregnancy. #EndChildMarriage". @BBhuttoZardari. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
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- "Sack 3 ministers in Imran Khan's govt for supporting banned outfits: Bilawal". The Hindu. PTI. 19 March 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 September 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
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