“My mother always used to say that democracy is the best revenge”.
The very statement symbolized the audacity of the teenager and his adherence to the democratic principles of his martyred mother, Benazir Bhutto. The 19 years old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari now stood as the Chairman of the largest political party of Pakistan – the Pakistan Peoples Party. The day billowed with woe, anguish and ordeal, but a spark of hope stroke every empathy – an optimism that was evident in his eyes and every gesture – for he was now prepared to lead the party and thus, prove that “You cannot murder a legacy”. Numerous interrogated about the fate of the Pakistan Peoples Party, following Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, and the young Bhutto’s words provided an answer to all :
“It (PPP) was not handed to me like some piece of furniture. The party asked me to do it and I did”.
On September 21, 1988, the most celebrated and politically controversial baby in the history of Pakistan had been born. The streets echoed with the slogans of “Jeay Bhutto” – for Bilawal came to be the first grandson of the Leader of the People, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The extent of merriment on the birth of the child carries an amusing flash of emotions, as one goes through Benazir Bhutto’s memoirs: “Seventy Clifton was deluged with thousands of congratulatory telegrams, letters, and cards. All the flower and cake shops were sold out. Many of the hundreds of cakes delivered to the house came iced in the red, green, and black colors of the PPP. I sent on most of them, as well as the flowers, to political prisoners in Karachi jail, to the nursing staff and patients at the hospital, and to the homes of the families of martyrs. Asif sent others to the orphanage near the racecourse where he used to play polo. There were stories and cartoons in the newspapers about the baby: The Baby That Fooled the President. I put them in a baby book for him.”
The name “Bilawal” means “one without equal” and over the years, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has proved that. The blood of Bhutto flows through him and he has revealed his commitment to the people of Pakistan, after spending numerous birthdays in the absence of his father, President Asif Ali Zardari, who had been imprisoned for the “fake” corruption charges against him. As a teenager, Bilawal said: “I have gone through lots of things and he wasn’t there. At the time when we needed him, he was taken away. We were denied a normal life.” Ever since his childhood, he saw his parents, fighting for the rights of the commons of Pakistan and to make “Bread, Clothing and Shelter” available to everyone. His family was suffering to secure the future of the millions of children, who had no access to education, nor possessed any health facilities. In 2004, a farsighted Bilawal looked both to the past and the future when he said: “My grandfather was a very courageous man and I consider myself very lucky because I have three powerful role models that will obviously influence my career choices when I am older.” And four years later, after the atrocious assassination of his mother, Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto, at the age of 19, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had been thrust into front-line politics in one of the most chaotic countries in the world. And he didn’t let down the hopes of millions of the devotees of the Bhutto family.
The Bilawal, we all know – a Black Belt in Taekwondo and a graduate from the Christ Church College, Oxford completely understands the plight of the people living in Pakistan. In his famous address to the PPP Parliamentarians, he won the hearts of the masses by crying out :
“Sar chahiyai, sar hum daiy gay, khoon chahiyai, khoon hum daiy gay, jan chahiyai jan hum daiy gay…”
Representing the cause of Pakistan on international forums, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has proved to be the true son of the soil. In his recent address at the Conference on Development and People’s Access at the ICAPP in Nanning, he emphasized that drones, raids and unilateral actions were not the answers, “Dialogue, deterrence, development and democracy is the only roadmap to peace…. My country lies wounded as a victim of terror. We don’t lack the will. We lack the means. We are neither complicit nor are we incompetent. We lack capacity to face the world’s enemies on our own. At a time of global recession and natural disasters, when Pakistan requires sympathy, support and assistance from the west we are met with suspicions, accusations and deionisation”.
His words “took my first breath in Lyari. Special place in my heart for Lyari. Want so much more for Lyari…” alone stand as a crest of his ever enduring dedication to the people of Pakistan. The 23rd birthday of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari brings a hope of an educated and prosperous Pakistan.
“So apparently I get an extra early birthday this year? If anyone needs ideas for a birthday gift I’d like peace in KHI please. #DOB 21/09/88”