PPP says Bilawal candidate for PM slot despite Zardari’s ‘inexperienced’ remarks

“You learn every day in politics," PPP's top leader insists, saying one person does not make party's decision

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Naya Pakistan
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PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (left) and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. — NNI/Online/File
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari (left) and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. — NNI/Online/File

  • “You learn every day in politics," PPP's Faisal Karim Kundi says.
  • Former minister says one person doesn't make party's decision.
  • Bilawal has left for Dubai after Zardari's hard-hitting remarks.


The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has clarified that its chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, is still the party’s candidate for the prime ministership despite his father, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, believing he is “inexperienced”.

“Our party’s chairman is Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate for prime ministership,” PPP Central Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi said during an interview on Geo News’ programme “Naya Pakistan” on Friday.

Bilawal has been presenting himself as an option for leading the country out of the ongoing crises as he rallied in several cities ahead of the general elections, scheduled to be held on February 8 next year.

“You learn every day in politics. You need to analyse how he represented Pakistan after becoming the foreign minister. You still say that he’s under training. God willing, you’ll see how he will represent Pakistan after becoming the prime minister.”

During his interview with Hamid Mir a day earlier, Zardari had said that Bilawal needed to be trained in politics and that being the president of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), he had the authority to issue tickets to candidates for elections, including Bilawal.

“I am the president of ‘four Ps’ and I allocate election tickets, while son Bilawal is chairman of the PPP,” he said, hours after which Bilawal left for Dubai, but the party rebutted rumours of differences between the father-son duo.

Kundi acknowledged that the PPPP has the power to issue tickets to the candidates, but claimed that the issuance goes through a process — shrugging down the impression that it is one man’s decision.

Bilawal has also been targeting the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the caretaker government, demanding a level playing field. He also called the PML-N “mehangai league”, slamming them for their “failure” in governance. However, Zardari believes that a confrontational policy is not the solution.

Kundi defended Bilawal’s stance, saying that special favours were being handed down to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his party. “[Zardari] might have the same issues, we will discuss it in the CEC tomorrow.”

PPP rules out father-son rifts

Hours before Kundi’s interview, the PPP quashed the rumours of differences between the party’s top brass — Zardari and Bilawal — after the former foreign minister left for Dubai.

Zardari’s, in a hard-hitting with Geo News’ Hamid Mir, had called Bilawal “inexperienced”, “not fully trained” in politics, and would “take time” getting up to speed — fuelling rumours of rifts between them — as Bilawal had been asking old politicians to rest and allow the new generation to take the lead.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Kundi said the party chairman’s visit to Dubai, an emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was pre-planned.

“Chairman PPP @BBhuttoZardari has left for Dubai yesterday afternoon according to his schedule after KP visit,” Kundi noted, after media outlets reported that he had left the country “all of a sudden”.

PPP says Bilawal candidate for PM slot despite Zardari’s ‘inexperienced’ remarks

“Rumours regarding differences between Chairman PPP & President @AAliZardari is baseless,” he added.

While talking to journalists moments after his statement, Murad Ali Shah — former Sindh chief minister and a top PPP leader — also said that the visit was routine.

Talking to Geo News, PPP Information Secretary Shazia Atta Marri said that Bilawal has left for Dubai on a “private visit” and noted that he routinely visits the Gulf nation. “There’s no specific reason for this visit.”

She also added that Bilawal was scheduled to leave for Dubai after completing his Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) election tour.

“Bilawal will return to Pakistan on November 30 and address the party’s Foundation Day event,” she clarified.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman wondered why news channels were panicking, calling his visit “exactly as scheduled”.

There seems to be a difference in the narratives between the two top leaders in the run-up to the polls as Bilawal believes there could be interference in the general elections, while Zardari said he sees transparent polls.

Bilawal has been campaigning across the country and touting his party as the solution to Pakistan’s ills, while also asking “old politicians” to sit back and allow the new generation to lead from the front in the elections.

In his speech in the National Assembly in August, Bilawal had also asked his father and PML-N supremo Nawaz to ensure that politics for the next generation was easier, stressing that they shouldn’t suffer the same fate as their elders.

‘Inappropriate’

Analyst Mazhar Abbas, while speaking on Geo News’ programme “Geo Pakistan”, called Zardari’s comments “inappropriate” and said they damaged Bilawal’s political image.

“But this isn’t the first time that Zardari has done this,” Abbas noted.

When Bilawal was formally launched in Karachi, and he made some hard-hitting statements against Nawaz and Altaf, Zardari did not take him to a workers’ convention in Lahore the very next month.

“Over there, Zardari was asked about Bilawal. In response, he said Bilawal was inexperienced and a child. It was surprising as this happened when he was being launched.”

Abbas raised concerns that no one might take Bilawal — the country’s youngest foreign minister — “seriously” as his father had raised questions on his credibility.

“Who will take him seriously in his next rallies?” Abbas asked. The analyst said Bilawal also wants a level-playing field within his own party.

He recalled that Aitzaz Ahsan, a former PPP leader, had in 2015 said that people of old age should sit on the sidelines and allow Bilawal to lead, noting that even if he does make mistakes, he will learn over time.

“All of the Bhuttos [...] you should take a look at their ages when they were martyred. Maybe Bilawal is talking in historical context,” he added.