On Thursday, Asif Ali Zardari, the ex-president, mentioned that his son and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is still learning about politics and will need some time to become fully skilled.
In an interview on the Geo News show ‘Capital Talk’ with journalist Hamid Mir, the PPP leader commented on Bilawal. Zardari was questioned about Bilawal, who has been urging the nation to allow experienced politicians to step back and give new faces a chance in the upcoming general elections.
In August, while addressing the National Assembly, Bilawal, the country’s youngest foreign minister to date, urged his father and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif to make decisions that would create a more favorable political environment for the younger generation. He expressed concern that the youth was losing hope in the country’s future.
In the interview, Zardari discussed his reasons for being in politics. He stated, “Politics is something I must do, not something I choose to do. Bibi Sahiba was martyred, Bhutto Sahib was martyred, and thousands of our workers lost their lives. So, there is a debt on us, and I am in politics to fulfill that obligation.”
“And Bilawal is still not fully trained. We are training him,” he stated.
“Bilawal isn’t trained?” inquired a surprised Mir, to which Zardari nodded.
“He’ll need time,” remarked the PPP leader. However, Zardari acknowledged that Bilawal is more talented, educated, and articulate than him but emphasized that “experience is experience.”
Later in the interview, Zardari addressed Bilawal’s perspectives on older politicians. “The younger generation these days has their own thinking… everyone has the right to express their thoughts,” he remarked.
He added that preventing someone from engaging in politics would only lead to more issues. “What if he says, ‘You do politics, I will not.’ Then what will I do?” questioned Zardari.
Zardari clarified that Bilawal’s remarks were aimed at everyone. “He is addressing everyone and not just Zardari sahib,” he emphasized.
He mentioned that politics requires time, and even he occasionally makes mistakes. “It’s not that I don’t make mistakes. The journey of life is about learning from cradle to grave,” Zardari stated.
Zardari explained that within the PPP, there were “two parties.” “One is PPP, and one is PPPP. I lead PPPP as its president, while Bilawal is the chairman of PPP,” he added, noting that he is responsible for issuing tickets to party candidates.
When asked if he was employing a “good cop, bad cop” strategy, Zardari responded, “This is not a police station where good cop, bad cop is used to extract a confession from someone. If Bilawal was in business with me, he would’ve said the same thing. It’s the same in politics. This is a common story in every household.”
PPP was offered ministries to form an alliance with PTI
At the beginning of the interview, Zardari expressed confidence that elections would occur in the country on February 8. “That’s why we are on the move, covering all of Pakistan, going everywhere,” he mentioned, adding that political campaigns were “beneficial” for political parties.
Regarding the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) attempt to remove former Prime Minister Imran Khan in April 2022, Zardari commented that Pakistan would have faced difficulties if Imran had remained in power.
He noted that Pakistan had become “isolated” from the world under Imran’s leadership. Zardari expressed confusion about what the PTI chief was thinking during his time in office. The PPP leader labeled Imran as an “enemy” of the economy and held the PTI government responsible for Pakistan’s economic challenges.
Later in the conversation, Mir brought up reports about Zardari being urged to leave the country in 2021 on the one hand and being encouraged to form an alliance with the PTI on the other.
In response, Zardari remarked, “There are games. Games within games within games. Always. Take six ministries — why should I take six ministries?”
“Did Gen Faiz say this?” inquired Mir, referring to former spymaster retired Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed.
“Do we need a Section 164 on Gen Faiz?” Zardari quipped with a smile, apparently referencing statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Zardari mentioned that he was being urged to form an alliance between the PPP and PTI “across the board,” not just against the PML-N. He further stated that he did not accept this alliance “from the start.”
Mir then questioned the ex-president about why he assumed the responsibility of mobilizing political parties for the vote of no-confidence against Imran.
“The cause was mine. The cause was ours […] all parties had a consensus on ousting Imran, so someone has to do the work,” Zardari explained. He added that the country’s situation would have deteriorated if the vote of no-confidence against Imran had not succeeded.
Difficult’ experience with coalition govt
When questioned about the PPP’s experience working with the coalition government, Zardari described it as “very difficult.” He mentioned expressing various concerns to Shehbaz Sahib, but the advice went unheard, causing harm to the country, particularly in matters related to trade.
Simultaneously, the PPP leader expressed admiration for Shehbaz, highlighting him as a diligent “workaholic” who rises early in the morning.
Regarding the possibility of collaborating with the PML-N again, Zardari remarked, “Look, what is the chessboard? On the chessboard, neither the PML-N, the PPP, Maulana sahib, nor any other party can secure 172 seats.”
Zardari envisioned the next government as a “collective” and a “national unity government.”