Bilawal Bhutto arrives in US,
leaving AJK campaign in middle

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ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday left for a week-long visit to the US, leaving the Azad Jammu and Kashmir election campaign in the middle.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the daughter of former president Asif Ali Zardari, will lead the PPP’s campaign to woo voters ahead of the upcoming election in AJK in the absence of Bilawal Bhutto. A private TV channel reported that Aseefa Bhutto Zardari will visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir where she would address public meetings and rallies in connection with the polls. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari was given the task to run the party’s election campaign in view of the Pakistan People’s Party chairman’s US visit.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had arrived in AJK last month to lead his party’s campaign ahead of the election slated for July 25.

During his week-long stay in the US, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be visiting Washington and New York. Moreover, he will also address a press conference there. The PPP chairman will hold meetings with the party’s office-bearers and delegations of workers during the visit.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Earlier on July 4, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had left for the United States, where, he was to be joined by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Murad Ali Shah had left for the United States via Emirates airline flight EK-607 last week. The sources privy to details of the visit had said that the Sindh chief minister will hold meetings with important personalities.

According to media reports, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has told his party workers that he is in the US on a private visit and will come again in September.

The PPP leader, who landed in New York on Sunday afternoon, met his party workers at the JFK airport before leaving for an undisclosed destination, apparently in Wyoming, to attend a conference.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is already in the US, fuelling speculations about the presence of two key PPP leaders at a time when the Biden administration is reviewing its strategy towards South Asia.

The Americans are worried about the fate of the Afghan government after the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan and want Pakistan to play a role in arranging a power-sharing deal between Kabul and the Taliban. Pakistan has offered to cooperate in this effort but has categorically said that it was neither asked for nor offering bases to the US military.

Both pro- and anti-PPP elements are linking the visit to the US concerns about Afghanistan, ignoring an earlier PPP statement that this was a private visit.

PM’s special assistant Shahbaz Gill triggered the speculations with a statement claiming that Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was looking to strike a deal with the United States.