LAHORE - Since the October 18 controversial speech by Bilawal Bhutto and the ensuing displeasure expressed by PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari over some of his utterances, much has been said and written about the alleged sour relationship between the father and the son.

The Nation’s investigation into the issue shows that while there is some truth behind the story, there is also an element of fiction in the whole affair.

Background interviews with senior PPP leaders suggest that party chairman and the co-chairman do have a difference of opinion on party matters, but at the same time, they were maintaining cordial relations at the personal level. “Both had a good time in London last week attending Christmas functions and other social gatherings,” a party leader observed, dismissing reports that Zardari had gone there to bring his son back.

As the time when the stories about differences between Bilawal and his father were making round in the media, the former president in his speech on the eve of Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on December 27, also briefly touched upon this issue by saying that opponents are spreading rumors about rift between him and his son.

In the meantime, Bilawal tweeted from London that while his father was a ‘bow’ he was an ‘arrow’. PPP leaders have interpreted this tweet as Bilawal’s approval of working under the guidance of his father to defeat the opponents. “Had he been angry with his father he would not have posted this tweet on his twitter account,” commented a close aide to Mr Zardari.

About Bilawal’s absence from her mother’s death anniversary, he said that it had nothing to do with personal relationship between the two leaders. “It was due to security reasons and in line with their security team’s advice that all the family members should not be present at one place at the same time,” he informed this scribe.  

“While Bilawal and Aseefa stayed back at London, Zardari and Bakhtawar showed up at the death anniversary function at Garhi Khudabakhshah,” he argued while substantiating his point. He added that Aseefa who is otherwise very close to her father, also opted not to come to Pakistan on that occasion. “Is she also angry with her father,” he asked.

Talking about the issues of divergence between the father and the son, another party leader told The Nation that Bilawal wanted free hand to run the party and was also against frequent interventions in party matters by his aunt, Faryal Talpur.  

“Father was unhappy with the son when the latter raised a team of his advisors comprising those party men who had worked closely with his mother Benazir Bhutto. Similarly, Bilawal is not satisfied with the performance of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and wants his replacement with some young member of the Sindh Assembly. But Zardari, on the other hand has developed a penchant for Mr Shah and praises him quite often in party meetings,” he summarized the differences between them.   

Almost all PPP leaders with whom this scribe talked to admitted that issues of discord do exist between the two, but they believed that Bilawal was less likely to confront his father on any issue.  

Earlier, on party’s foundation day last month, Zardari had declared that Bilawal would stay away from active politics for the time being as the time was not ripe for politics of aggression. He had then also referred to Bilawal’s controversial speech at Karsaaz, Karachi in October this year which annoyed the MQM previously a coalition partner with the PPP in Sindh.