Inclusive Leadership- A clear Vision for Pakistan

By: Sana Siddique Rahimoo

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Leading a political party is like conducting a symphony, balancing harmony within and weathering storms from without. Inside, it’s about keeping everyone on the same page despite differences. Outside, it’s about calmly addressing criticism. Good leaders maintain peace within, avoiding conflicts and keeping decisions open. When faced with criticism, they respond wisely, seeing challenges as chances for growth. With clear principles and inclusive strategies, they steer towards progress.

Mr. Bilawal Bhutto assumed the chairmanship of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on December 30, 2007, at the age of 19. Reflecting on this significant milestone, he invoked the lasting words of his late mother, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who famously remarked, “my mother always said that democracy is the best revenge.” And through democracy we can build our nation.

Under the active leadership of Bilawal Bhutto, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) patent a historic moment on June 28, 2018. With an electrifying announcement, PPP proudly became the pioneer, launching its 10th manifesto for the 2018 general elections in Pakistan. Rightly titled “Bibi ka Waada Nibhaana Hai Pakistan Bachana Hai” (We have to fulfill Benazir’s promise and save Pakistan), this manifesto not only echoed the spirit of a nation but also ignited a flame of hope and change across the country.

On April 27, 2022, Bilawal Bhutto assumed the esteemed position of Foreign Minister of Pakistan, inaugurated into office by President Arif Alvi. At the wheel of Pakistan’s diplomatic affairs, Bilawal arisen as the nation’s youngest Foreign Minister, exemplifying a beacon of progressive leadership. His tenure has been characterized by a persistent commitment to encouraging constructive international relations and advancing Pakistan’s interests on the global platform.

During 2022 mega flood in Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, issued a poignant appeal for international assistance to bolster the nation’s recovery. Through diligent collaboration with the United Nations, substantial financial aid was garnered, culminating in the establishment of the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework (4RF). This comprehensive framework stands as a testament to Bilawal’s strategic foresight, providing a structured roadmap for the planning, financing, execution, and oversight of Pakistan’s rehabilitation efforts.

His efforts supported affected population and several rehabilitation projects were initiated, including the Sindh Flood Housing Project for reconstruction of 2.1 million housing units in 24 flood-affected districts of Sindh. Financial assistance of Rs.300,000 and Rs.50,000 provided to individuals whose houses are fully or partially damaged. The Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project had focused on rehabilitating damaged irrigation and drainage infrastructure, constructing 168 roads spanning 932.85 kilometers, restoring water supply and drainage schemes, and engaging people in cash-for-work activities. This nexus of double-dividend initiatives had been aimed at both rehabilitating rural infrastructure through community participation and providing Rs. 17,500 cash transfers to the 850,000 vulnerable flood-affected households.

The Sindh Water and Agriculture Transformation Project had significantly alleviated the hardships faced by the populace by enhancing agricultural water productivity, refining water resources management, and revitalizing crop production for small-scale farmers in the afflicted regions. The Strengthening Social Protection Delivery System in Sindh enhaced human capital-related health indicators, provided health and nutrition services, and implemented a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program for eligible pregnant women and mothers of children under 2 years in 15 rural districts of Sindh. The total cash stipend, based on 16 touch points, was Rs. 30,000. These initiatives, led by Bilawal Bhutto, contributed to the development of Pakistan and the betterment of its residents.

Mr. Bilawal Bhutto understands the struggles faced by poor people dealing with heart diseases. Many people, especially those who are economically disadvantaged, often feel like they have no options when it comes to getting the help they need. That’s why Mr. Bhutto and the PPP are focusing on projects to improve healthcare facilities. They’re upgrading government clinics and hospitals, especially in rural areas, and making sure that even the most basic health units are fully functional. They’re also proud of achievements like the Gambhat Institute of Medical Science and NICVD, which are making a big difference in the health sector. These efforts aren’t just about treating illnesses; they’re about helping people who are hit hardest by disasters and diseases, especially women in poverty. By improving healthcare access and quality, they’re making life a bit easier for those struggling with heart problems and other health issues.

During an interview, former Finance Minister Muftah Ismail, who is not affiliated with the PPP, commended Bilawal Bhutto’s tenure as foreign minister, particularly highlighting his response to the devastating floods of 2022. Ismail went on to express his opinion that Bilawal Bhutto was the most effective foreign minister compared to all his predecessors.

Former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and former Minister of State, Fahd Haroon, lauded the former Foreign Minister for his outstanding service and achievements, particularly noting his significant contributions during tough periods. Haroon emphasized Pakistan’s strong representation on the global stage during challenging times, crediting Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s role as the Foreign Minister for this success.

Bilawal Bhutto, drawing from the wisdom of his father and the legacies of his maternal grandfather and mother, led the recent 2024 general elections in Pakistan with a vision encapsulated in the manifesto “Chuno Nai Soch Ko”. His campaign, focused on engaging the youth, reflects his commitment to uplifting them across various spheres. His leadership style resonates with that of his maternal ancestors, drawing praise from opponents for his maturity, decisive decision-making, and dedication to eliminating divisiveness from politics.

Despite a healthy campaign across all provinces by the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto’s bid for the premiership fell short of expectations. Nevertheless, the PPP achieved a resounding victory in Sindh and Baluchistan and gained a significant number of seats in Punjab. While the results in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were mixed, it’s clear that the PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has reaffirmed its position as a formidable political force in Pakistan.

The Pakistan People’s Party has joined services with PML-N in a coalition aimed at improving the lives of Pakistani citizens. Bilawal Bhutto has pledged that this partnership will benefit all citizens. Furthermore, his party intends to prioritize legal processes over disruptive political tools like strikes, opting for lawful channels to address issues.

The selection of the core team in the Sindh cabinet, which includes Syed Murad Ali Shah, Awais Shah, and Anthony Naveed from the minority community, signifies a vision of wisdom. This talented and diversified team is committed to fulfilling the promises made to the voters. In the selection of his cabinet, Bilawal Bhutto has shown a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, reflecting a vision of wisdom that echoes through his leadership. As his team fulfilled their promises to the people, they stand as beacons of hope.

Bilawal Bhutto’s journey is a witness to the power of principled leadership in the face of hardship. Through democracy, as his mother once declared, he believes in seeking not revenge, but the collective betterment of his nation. And in this ethos lies the promise of a brighter future for Pakistan.

The author is a Gender Specialist at the Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project (SFERP). She can be reached at X SanaSRahimoo and via email at sanakhanzada4@gmail.com

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