“I didn’t choose this life,” Bilawal Bhutto’s search for agency


KARACHI: Pakistan’s recent political situation has been nothing short of a madhouse. Ousting a Prime Minister, protesting on the streets, dragging ex wives into the equation, our politicians seem adamant on making sure Pakistan makes it to international news every day. Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari seemed to have the same agenda when he recently sat down for an interview with CNN.

CNN journalist Becky Anderson and Bilawal Bhutto had a 10-minute-long conversation in which they spoke about the latter potentially becoming Pakistan’s next Foreign Minister, the country’s democratic system and PPP’s coalition with PMLN. Bhutto, however, spent a good part of the interview speaking about former Prime Minister, Imran Khan and his ‘little fascist cult following’.

One particular clip from the conversation caught both, Anderson and Pakistani audiences’ attention. It was when Bilawal Bhutto was questioned about the dynastic politics in Pakistan. Pointing out how current Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is the brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, and how Bhutto himself is the son of a former President and former Prime Minister, Anderson wondered whether dynastic politics is what is wrong with our country in the first place.

“Absolutely, dynasties exist,” Bhutto began his answer to a simple right or wrong question. “I think it would be unfair to criticize former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for involving in politics because her husband involves in politics etc.” Bhutto was stopped midsentence by the interviewer who pointed out that his response was not a good one at all while the question asked was a very important one.

“Criticize nepotism and dynastic politics as much as you want,” Bhutto briefly addressed the topic at hand while mentioning that it is the people of Pakistan who should choose who comes to power. However, Chairman PPP could not stop himself from speaking about Imran Khan yet again. Derailing the conversation, Bhutto mentioned how most of PTI consists of dynasts (while mentioning that Khan’s own children are not involved in politics and hence, a case of nepotism becomes irrelevant in that regard).

When all else failed, Bhutto resorted to playing the victim. “As far as myself is concerned, my grandfather was hanged by a military dictator, my mother was assassinated by terrorists…and I was forced into Pakistani politics at a young age, I didn’t choose this life, it chose me.”

Of course, Bhutto’s choice of words did not sit well with many. The victim mindset was specially confusing for many while a few others wished the PPP leader was more eloquent.

Bilawal Bhutto fumbled through a good part of the interview, specially when questioned about his family’s dynastic politics. And Twitter did not fail to pick up on that.

Was Bhutto caught off guard, nervous or simply ill-prepared? Or maybe he was all three.

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