In the spring of 2013, Pakistan plans to hold its presidential election. With crumbling relationships abroad and an unhappy electorate at home, the country is in desperate need of better leadership. Last week, 24 year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed a crowd of 200,000 supporters to officially announce his career in politics. Could his vision for Pakistan be the solution we all hope for?
Zardari is no new comer to politics. He is the son of current president Asif Ali Zardari and the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Also, his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has served as both prime minister and president of Pakistan. At the time of his mother’s death in 2007, Zardari, had been appointed co-chair of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) alongside his father. Coming from a long line of politicians, it was only expected that he would chose the same career path.
Zardari’s political address could not come at a better time. With the upcoming presidential elections, his entering the political field and taking a more active role will have a sway with voters. Unfortunately, Zardari will not be able to run for president until he turns the age of 25 in September. However, the name recognition of Bhutto combined with his endorsement of a PPP candidate will almost guarantee his political party a win at the polls.
President Zardari has been barred from running for reelection on the PPP platform due to recent corruption charges. With his son’s announcement to enter politics, it will help continue the Bhutto influence in government. Despite the unpopularity of Zardari, the name “Bhutto” still carries of lot of weight and influence amongst voters.
Dynastic politics is still very much alive in south Asia and heavily influences which leaders are elected into office. If the future promises a Bhutto on the ballot, many voters will turn out just to show their allegiance to a familiar political family. Given the success of the past leaders from the Bhutto family, the current electorate has renewed hope in Bhutto Zardari.
I believe that it is too early to gage whether or not he will be a good leader because he does not have enough political experience. Just having finished up at Oxford, he needs to be on the ground in Pakistan to learn what the country needs to get back on track.
Zardari comes from a long line of political figures, which guarantees him widespread support in Pakistan. His announcement to go into politics comes as no surprise and was expected. Only time will tell if he could be the leader the country so desperately needs.