A descendant of Pakistan’s leading political dynasty, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on Wednesday was sworn in as foreign minister in a government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at a crucial moment as he faced various challenges such as repairing strained relations with the US and finding a way to restart peace process with neighboring India.
President Arif Alvi swore in the 33-year-old Bilawal at a brief ceremony at Aiwan-i-Sadr (Presidential House), where Prime Minister Shehbaz, former president Asif Ali Zardari and other officials as well as leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were present.
It was the first time Bilawal was given an important position in the government and given an important portfolio of foreign minister. He was first elected to the Senate in 2018.
He became head of the foreign affairs ministry at an important crossroads when Pakistan needed a steady hand to navigate foreign policy through turbulent waters.
Among the key challenges, Bilawal needs to mend strained relations with the US following allegations of conspiracy by former prime minister Imran Khan and find a way to resume the stalled peace process with neighboring India.
Khan was ousted from power earlier this month after losing a vote of no confidence in his leadership, which he claimed was part of a U.S. -led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan. He however did not provide any credible evidence to support his claim. The US has vehemently denied its allegations.
Pakistan’s relations with India deteriorated after New Delhi announced the withdrawal of special powers of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
India has said that it wants normal neighborhood relations with Pakistan in an environment free from violence, hostility and violence. India has said the responsibility lies with Pakistan to create an environment free from violence and hostility.
Bilawal was sworn in almost a week after he met Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif in London last week where they discussed the “overall political situation” in Pakistan and vowed to work together on issues related to politics and national interests.
The PPP was the second largest party in the current coalition government of Prime Minister Sharif who was appointed on April 11.
Prime Minister Shehbaz is the president of PML-N.
Bilawal’s sister, Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari congratulated “the youngest Foreign Minister in Pakistani history.” “The task is very heavy, and the previous government has affected our international standing but I have no doubt that you will be proud of our country, party and family,” he wrote on Twitter.
Bilawal is the son of three -time former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who was killed in a bomb and gun attack at a political rally in Rawalpindi in 2007. She is the daughter of former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Zulfiqar was overthrown in 1977 by the military when General Ziaul Haq imposed martial law. He was tried for abetment in a murder case and hanged in 1979. Three of his four children, including Benazir, were brutally murdered, making the family the saddest political dynasty in Pakistan.
Zulfiqar also began his career as foreign minister in the 1960s, making striking resemblances to Bilawal.
Bilawal Bakhtawar’s younger sister Bhutto-Zardari had congratulated him earlier in the day for taking the oath as foreign minister.
“Today Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will be sworn in as Pakistan’s foreign minister in this unity government-decided by [the] PPP CEC (central executive committee) and we can’t be proud of it! Already more brilliant in parliament and always sticking to his democratic values - excited to see this path if God wills, ”he wrote on Twitter.