Defender of Pak traditions: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
The heir to Pakistan’s grandest political dynasty has seized on kite-flying, livestock races and Valentine’s Day concerts in a bid to stake out an identity for himself as a defender of traditional culture against the rising tide of religious extremism in the country.
The activities are among more than a dozen events that will form part of a two-week cultural festival in February organised by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 25-year-old son of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
The Sindh festival is being seen as the first major initiative undertaken by a young politician who until recently was little more than a symbolic figurehead for a party that reveres the Bhutto name.
Plans for the festival were announced at a glitzy event in Karachi on Monday night that owed more to a Silicon Valley gadget launch than the traditional rallies and campaign speeches that have made the Bhutto family’s Pakistan People’s party (PPP) a power in the land since his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, set it up in 1967.
He warned that the growing influence of hardline Islamic sects originating in the Middle East was leading to people “passively accepting the Talibanisation of Pakistan”.
The opening ceremony will take place at Mohenjo-Daro, the ancient ruins of one of the world’s first cities.