Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari sparked a flood of conspiracy theories this week after he made reference to a “new world order” during remarks at the the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Zardari used the phrase – which has long featured in the vocabulary of conspiracy theorists – on Friday during a panel entitled “A New Helsinki,” in reference to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.
That was a major diplomatic agreement signed during the détente era between 35 countries that agreed on issues including sovereign equality, peaceful settlement of disputes and territorial integrity.
During his remarks, Zardari said “there’s a lot of discussion about what the new world order will be or how, even in the context of a ‘new Helsinki’…how do we work towards that new normative international order that allows us to address our differences and disputes as the civilized world.”
He also said: “I hope this time around, once we’re building this new world order or new rules-based order, the voice of the global south and the developing world is included.”
The comments led to a deluge of criticism and conspiracy theories online, with some social media users making reference to the long running conspiracy theory that a “new world order” would be established that entails a “one world government.”
The WEF, an annual summit where billionaires, politicians, business leaders and celebrities meet in the Swiss Alps to discuss global problems, has long been subject to conspiracy theories.
Zardari, 34, is the youngest foreign minister in the history of Pakistan and a member of a prominent political family.
His mother was Benazir Bhutto, who served as prime minister of Pakistan twice in the 1990s and was assassinated in 2007. She was the first woman to hold that position. His father is Asif Ali Zardari, who served as president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013, while his grandfather was also prime minister.
According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zardari “wants to continue their legacy of serving the people of Pakistan.”
He is currently chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is the second largest party in the country’s coalition government, and became foreign minister in April 2022.
Born in 1988, Zardari earned a degree in history and politics from the University of Oxford in the U.K., which his mother had also attended.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry describes Zardari as “a devout advocate for democracy and freedom of expression, as well as an ardent supporter of women empowerment, social justice, minority rights, parity, religious and interfaith harmony. Earlier, as a leader of second largest opposition party in the parliament, he campaigned against inflation and infringement of human rights.”
“They’re the interim government in place in Afghanistan, they’ve promised the world as part of the Doha Agreement with the United States that they will ensure that their country will not be used for terrorism,” Zardari said.
“So, I think we should engage with them on that, give them the opportunity to demonstrate that—and we can help them build the capacity—but that they have the will to address this issue.”
Newsweek has contacted the World Economic Forum for comment.