PTI may be famous for it’s political rallies, but it was PPP that stunned the nation with its rally on Saturday. No matter whose numbers you want to believe, it is undeniable that the turnout was massive enough to put to bed silly questions about whether the party is ‘finished’. In fact, the question being asked today is whether or not Saturday’s rally – and more specifically Bilawal’s speech – marks a turning point in a national politics that has grown stale and disheartening for so many.
PPP didn’t trot out aging rock stars and sports celebrities to draw a crowd. What drew cheers from both jiyalas and critics alike was the substance of Bilawal’s speech.
Bilawal Bhutto seems to be the only political leader who speaks unequivocally on the need to fight militancy and extremism head on
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) October 18, 2014
Still, it must bother intelligent Insafians that a 26 year old has substantially more depth than the senior citizen guardian of our youth.
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) October 18, 2014
Unlike older political upstarts, Bilawal did not stoop to hyper-nationalist narratives, using the people’s frustration to stoke anger and hatred. He didn’t attack his political opponents with foul language and personal insults. He directly addressed the challenges that the country is facing – even the more dangerous ones. He talked about the long march for missing persons. He talked about taking on extremism head on. He talked about the issues that most of his seniors have been unwilling to talk about.
Most importantly, however, Bilawal appealed to the people’s sense of hope in a way that was more substantive than a bootlegged Barack Obama campaign poster. Bilawal didn’t just write the word ‘HOPE’ under his portrait, he gave a courageous, uplifting message that the people could believe in.
As much as his speech inspired the masses, it obviously rattled the old guard who are heavily invested in the status quo. The fear and frustration of politicians who have watched their own rallies dwindle to a trickle quickly responded with abuse and brought out ‘political comedians’ in their attempt to distract their followers from hearing the young Bhutto’s message.
After the last elections, many political analysts were ready to write off the PPP as a party of the past. But politics is a Test match, and on Saturday PPP proved that they were not only not out, but they still know how to bat sixes.