Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, I belong to your motherland – Sindh. The people of this unfortunate soil are proud of your grandfather and mother, who were the son and daughter of this very land. They love you as much as they have loved them.
Also read: What Bilawal must do...
I will not go into the past; what your grandfather and your mother ought or ought not to have done. Let bygones be bygones. But considering how your party has been in power for the last seven years, I just want you to talk about these seven things in your upcoming October 18 jalsa, where you are likely to address a sea of people:
1. A new dream to aspire to
There is a new dream in town, and it is catching up with the town residents very fast.
There is a reason for that: this nation is fed up with its culture of corruption and incompetence. It has tarnished their country’s reputation badly. They want to rise again; to be injected with new spirits and ambitions; to have a new vision worth aspiring to.
Imran Khan has struck a chord with the masses because that is exactly what he has to offer – a fresh start.
Bilawal, do you have a dream to offer to your people?
Your grandfather had offered people a socialist system – Roti Kapra aur Makan – which was followed on by your mother.
But the sophistry, the ensuing sympathy votes are not going to cut it anymore. Imran is offering not only Roti Kapra aur Makan but also good governance, justice, merit, free and fair elections in 'Naya Pakistan'. He is adamant to end corruption and bring back the money stored away in Swiss bank accounts by our politicians.
Do you have anything 'naya' for Pakistanis? Only tomorrow will tell.
2. Owning up to PPP's faults
A few weeks ago, you apologised to your workers for the wrongs your party and its leaders have been committing. That is a good beginning, but how do you plan to follow up?
A complete and overarching overhaul is the necessity of the day. But when it comes to change, you appear to not have to large a role in the party; all decisions are made by either Asif Zardari or Faryal Talpur.
A few weeks ago, Parveen Junejo – a hands-down winner from PS-76 – claimed that she was forced to resign at gunpoint just because her husband had developed differences with her and then got Faryal to coerce his wife out of her seat.
Such actions of jageerdariyat are still at work in the PPP, it is utterly disappointing. The youth, the educated and the visionary are not allowed to work freely. You had acknowledged the incident, but to no consequence.
PPP's five years in power were marred by corruption, embezzlement, joblessness, inflation, highhandedness and just sheer incompetence all around.
The only way forward from here is to admit the faults, while charting a future plan of action.
Tomorrow, you must show the will to expel corruption, and then do.
3. Education, especially in rural Sindh
The state of education is so bleak that it merits a separate mention.
Of late, Bilawal, you have spoken up for education. You express admiration for Malala Yousafzai. You even invited her to help you improve education in Sindh.
But that statement has political point-scoring written all over it. One look at the state of education in interior Sindh, and you'll know how badly things have fallen apart.
What has your party done in this regard? Numerous governments-run schools are yet to be opened. ASER 2013 shows 29 per cent children aged 5-16 as out of schools, and that's a very optimistic figure. Even with those who do attend schools, a thousand problems abound: rooms/buildings/toilets are inadequate; furniture is absent; textbooks are unavailable; teachers are barely present and of the few that are, even fewer are qualified enough to be teachers to the students!
This isn't me, this is what your very own leader Taj Haider said at the launch of the ASER 2013 report. As if the picture he painted was not dismal enough, others chipped in to point out how political pressure in appointments and transfers meant it was impossible to strive toward any improvement.
Also read: Bilawal’s mea culpa
A case in point of favouritism in your party is approximately 30,000 fake appointments made in the education department during the last tenure. The current Minister of Education has admitted to it in the assembly. Are you not aware of it? If you are, then why the inaction against former education minister Pir Mazharul Haq?
What is stopping you from reforming education, especially in rural Sindh? You will have to make some kind of response to this in your address.
4. Minorities, especially in rural Sindh
You, Bilawal Bhutto, are loud at rhetoric. But I hope tomorrow you will switch from rhetoric to reality?
You've talked against extremism and in favour of minorities, but from a safe distance. In practical terms, your party has done little in this regard. Despite the entire government machinery swinging into action, neither the culprits of the Gumbat rape incident, nor the killers of the two Hindu trader brothers from Umerkot have been apprehended as yet.
Also read: Blaming Bilawal
In spite of your promises, extremism has made solid inroads into Sindh. There have been multiple attacks on temples in Sindh. And, you must be fully aware of the Bhoro Bheel incident? Let me remind you here that the victim's parents are yet to find justice.
Hindus are migrating to India in thousands. Ahmadis are not spared either. How will you switch things around for them; for women, for Shias, for Christians? What is your strategy to deal with extremism?
5. Alternative to new provinces?
Every party now accepts the need for new provinces, including the PPP. In fact, in the elections before last, the PPP campaigned on the call for a separate province in south Punjab.
But when it comes to new units in Sindh, PPP is hesitant. "Marson marson sindh na deson", you say. But considering that provinces do need smaller administrative units, what is your alternative to dividing Sindh? People need a clear policy. People need a clear answer to why PPP has shied away from local bodies elections, too.
6. Where does the PPP stand in Punjab?
The 2013 election results paint a clear picture – PPP is as good as wiped out in Punjab due to bad governance. It stands largely confined to Sindh. It has lost further support for reportedly not taking a strong enough stand in the dharna standoff.
So what is the plan, Bilawal? Which of the two are you supporting, PML-N or democracy? What side are you on, status quo or change?
Also read: Bilawal — PPP’s last hope in Punjab?
7. How is Bilawal better than Imran?
Imran Khan is a novice in parliament, whereas the PPP has been a force for decades. But Imran has left reeling the politicians vying for status quo.
Many people now want a big makeover in Pakistan. You may disagree with his viewpoints on the Talban and extremism, but you cannot rule out the public support he has garnered.
So, Bilawal, do you have a good enough reason for telling people not to gravitate towards Imran Khan?
Bilawal – why you and why not the others?
Please respond tomorrow.