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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.png
Bhutto Zardari in 2019
Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Assumed office
30 December 2007
Preceded byBenazir Bhutto
Member of the National Assembly
Assumed office
13 August 2018
ConstituencyNA-200 Larkana
Majority34,226 (22.46%)
Chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights
Assumed office
5 March 2019
Personal details
Born
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

(1988-09-21) 21 September 1988 (age 33)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
NationalityPakistani
Political partyPakistan Peoples Party
Parent(s)Benazir Bhutto
Asif Ali Zardari
Relatives
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
OccupationPolitician

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (Urdu: بلاول بھٹو زرداری, Sindhi: بلاول ڀٽو زرداري; born 21 September 1988) is a Pakistani politician and the current chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.[1] 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. Zardari became a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan on 13 August 2018.[2]

Early life and background

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with his father Asif Ali Zardari

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

For early education, 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 a Master of Arts by seniority).[6][7]

Career

Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party and 2018 general elections

Zardari was appointed as a Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP),[8] on 30 December 2007,[9] at the age of 19.[7] On this occasion he recalled his martyred mother, "My mother always said that democracy is the best revenge".[10]

Bhutto with Sanam Bhutto, Duane Baughman, and Mark Singel in 2012.

On 28 June 2018, PPP, under 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 fulfil 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.[11] PPP kicked off its election campaign on 30 June 2018, as 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 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 the 2013 General Elections.[12] 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.[12][13]

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.[14]

Member of the National Assembly

On 13 August 2018, 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 praised 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 fulfil his promise of rooting out corruption, resolving water crisis and providing ten million jobs and 5 million houses to the people during his tenure.[15]

The speech received a 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 Zardari coined the term 'PM Select' for Imran Khan who was 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.[14]

Committee for Human Rights

On 5 March 2019, Zardari was elected – unopposed - as the chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Human Rights.[16] 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.[17][18]

Political activism

Support for 18th Amendment

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 a referendum."[19]

Freedom of expression

A devout advocate for democracy, 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."[20][21]

During the speech, he also to criticized the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 and stated that it had been misapplied to stifle dissent.[21]

Women's rights

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 the country's progress.[22]

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.[23][24] 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.[24]

On 17 March 2019, Zardari met with a delegation of women's rights activists led by Sheema Kirmani and assured his support for their cause.[25] 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."[26]

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 a member of the 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."[27][28]

Civil rights

Zardari has repeatedly defended the rights of minorities in Pakistan. On 4 December 2012, in a statement responding to reports about the 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."[29]

During a cake cutting ceremony for Christmas in Karachi, on 25 December 2018, 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 tranquillity across the world is heavily established.[30]

At the memorial for the 7th death anniversary of former Federal Minister of Interfaith Harmony, Shahbaz Bhatti on 3 March 2018, 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 the properties of Christians and other non-Muslims. The blasphemy laws carry the mandatory death penalty. We must prevent their misuse. We will."[31][32]

On 29 September 2019, he visited the Hindus in Ghotki and the Sacho Satram Dham temple which was desecrated in the 2019 Ghotki riots and condemned the attack. [33]

Foreign policy

On 20 September 2014, while speaking to party workers in Multan, 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.[34][35][36]    

On 6 February 2019, 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 his 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-administered Kashmir in their just struggle for the right to self-determination and freedom from illegal and immoral Indian occupation.

Terrorism

On 18 February 2018, while addressing a function in Washington, 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."[37]

Zardari has also repeatedly criticized the government's resistance to 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, 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."[38][39]

References

  1. ^ "People to get rid of govt, claims Bilawal Bhutto Zardari","The News International",November 9, 2019
  2. ^ "328 MNAs sworn in to 15th National Assembly". Dawn. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Profile: Bilawal Zardari". BBC News. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Heir to a political dynasty". BBC News (in British English). 25 July 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. ^ "President grieved: Hakim Ali Zardari passes away – The Express Tribune". 25 May 2011.
  6. ^ Bilawal Bhutto graduates from Oxford with MA degree Dawn
  7. ^ a b "Bilawal Zardari Becomes New PPP Chairman and Benazir Bhutto’s Successor", 30 December 2007
  8. ^ "Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Heir to a political dynasty", "BBC", 25 July 2018
  9. ^ "Bhutto's son Bilawal named PPP chairperson", "Rediff India Abroad", 30 December 2007
  10. ^ "Bilawal named PPP chairman: party to contest elections", "Business Recorder", 30 December 2007
  11. ^ "Bilawal unveils PPP manifesto for General Election 2018". www.geo.tv (in American English). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Welcome to the Website of Provincial Assembly of Sindh". www.pas.gov.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Bilawal Bhutto Zardari manages to win only one of three NA seats". www.geo.tv (in American English). Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Kenyatta, He Hon. Mzee Jomo, (1889–22 Aug. 1978), CGH; MP; (First) President of the Republic of Kenya since December 1964; Prime Minister, also Minister for Internal Security and Defence, and Foreign Affairs, Kenya, since 1963", Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u156328
  15. ^ "Call to ruling party politicians after threats and attacks on journalists". Human Rights Documents Online. doi:10.1163/2210-7975_hrd-4238-0162.
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  22. ^ "BBC News Channel - HARDtalk, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Chairman, Pakistan People's Party". BBC (in British English). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  23. ^ "International Day of the Girl Child: Bilawal pledges to protect girls". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Girls' education is sole guarantee of Pakistan's prosperity and progress: Bilawal". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Bilawal highlights women's rights as he meets with organizers of Aurat March in Karachi". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  26. ^ MediaCellPPP (16 March 2019). "PPP will not tolerate any offence against the struggle for gender equality and women's rights – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari". Pakistan Peoples Party Official. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Bilawal calls for an end to child marriage in Pakistan". www.aninews.in. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  29. ^ "Bilawal Bhutto stresses safeguarding minorities' rights | Pakistan Today". www.pakistantoday.com.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  30. ^ "Christians of Pakistan contributed in variety of fields: Bilawal Bhutto". www.radio.gov.pk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
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  34. ^ "Will take back Kashmir, not leave an inch of it if PPP comes to power: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari". The Indian Express (in en-IN). 21 September 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  35. ^ Tribune.com.pk (20 September 2014). "Bilawal's pledge to 'take back' Kashmir sparks fierce reaction in India". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Pakistan People's Party will get entire Kashmir from India: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari". The Economic Times. 20 September 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  37. ^ Tribune.com.pk (26 February 2018). "Terrorism can be defeated if we stop glorifying violence: Bilawal". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  38. ^ Reporter, The Newspaper's Staff (17 March 2019). "Bilawal demands joint parliamentary body for NAP implementation". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  39. ^ "Sack 3 ministers in Imran Khan's govt for supporting banned outfits: Bilawal". The Hindu (in en-IN). PTI. 19 March 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 September 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)

External links