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A Bhutto Successor?

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Author Topic: A Bhutto Successor?  (Read 38 times)
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« on: December 29, 2007, 04:44:13 pm »

Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old
son Bilawal, here with his
father Asif Ali Zardari at the

                                                             A Bhutto Successor?

December 30, 2007
A senior official of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) told TIME late Saturday that the slain former prime minister's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, will likely be named as her political heir and the new party leader on Sunday. PPP members are due to meet to discuss the party's future and to give Bilawal, a student at Oxford, a chance to read his mother's last will and testament.
A Pakistani television news channel also carried reports that Bilawal will be made the new leader, which the channel said accorded with Benazir Bhutto's wishes. If confirmed, the teenager will become the third leader of the 40-year-old center-left party, one of Pakistan's most powerful. Bilawal will follow his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who founded the PPP in 1967, led Pakistan as Prime Minister for four years in the mid 1970s and was hanged in 1979 by a military government, and Benazir, who took over from her father and was killed in a shooting and suicide bomb attack two days ago.

The quick anointment of a Bhutto to head the PPP will help rally party members devastated by the assassination of their tough but beloved leader. The party hopes to ride a wave of sympathy in parliamentary elections that are set for Jan. 8 but may yet be postponed in the face of widespread violence around the country. Rival opposition parties have called for a boycott of the polls but PPP officials say their party intends to participate.

Bilawal was born in September 1988, nearly three months before his mother was elected Prime Minister for the first time. After Benazir and her children went into self-imposed exile in the late 1990s, the family split their time between London and Dubai, where Bilawal attended the Rashid School for Boys, serving as vice president of the school's student council. In Fall 2007 he enrolled at Oxford, where both his grandfather and his mother studied. A 2004 profile of Bilawal in the respected Pakistani daily newspaper Dawn said the teenager liked target-shooting, swimming, horseback riding and squash, and regretted being away from Pakistan in part because it meant he played less cricket. His grandfather, he said, "was a very courageous man and I consider myself very lucky because I have three powerful role models that will obviously influence my career choices when I am older."

As PPP members have begun to contemplate who should take over as party leader, a consensus has emerged that the person needs to be a Bhutto, a name that retains incredible power and vote-winning influence in secular Pakistan despite - or perhaps because of - the tragedies and controversies the family has faced. It is not the first time a young Bhutto has taken over from a dead parent. "This was also the situation when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was murdered," says Babar Awan, a PPP Senator and close ally of Benazir. "Benazir was a teenager, she was a student at Harvard in 1979 [when Zulfikar Ali was hanged]. It is basically the hard core of the PPP that rallies around their great hope and that they attach to the House of Bhutto."

Many people had tipped Benazir's husband Asif Ali Zardari for the top spot, and in the unpredictable world of Pakistani politics that could still happen. An experienced politician, Zardari served as Environment Minister in his wife's second administration. But he is also a controversial figure in Pakistan, and has spent a total of 11 years in prison on various charges including blackmail and corruption, for which he earned the nickname "Mr. 10%." Supporters dismiss these charges, most of which have been thrown out of Pakistani courts (a few are still pending), as politically related mischief. "He's a strong man," says PPP Senator Awan. "All of us are controversial. Wasn't Benazir Bhutto? Wasn't
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto? All those who don't accept the military role in politics are controversial. The charges are 100%
unfounded and fake."

Other possible runners include Benazir's sister Sanam, though she seems incredibly reluctant to join the family firm, or Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali's eldest son Murtaza. Fatima, however, had split with her aunt Benazir, whom she once described as "the most dangerous woman in Pakistan." The decision to go with Bilawal appears to have come after his father turned down the job in deference to the slain Benazir's expressed wishes. The senior PPP official, who requested anonymity to allow him to speak more openly, told TIME that Bilawal will head the party, and that the party's deputy leader and longtime Benazir loyalist, Mukhdoom Amin Fahim, is likely to become the prime minister, assuming the party wins a majority in parliament. Bilawal would take over as the parliamentary leader once he finishes his studies and once he has more experience, the official said. Earlier in the day PPP Senator Awan told TIME that Bilawal was a natural future leader. "Yes, of course," he said. "he has to be groomed and trained but that will happen."

The young Bhutto, Benazir's only son, knows the dangers of the job he might be about to take on.

Last year Benazir told a reporter that she hoped her three children would choose a different career. "My children have told me they are very worried about my safety," she said. "I understand those fears. But they are Bhuttos and we have to face the future with courage, whatever it brings."
« Last Edit: December 29, 2007, 07:36:45 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 06:19:01 pm »

Bhutto's husband at the funeral.
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2007, 07:20:00 pm »

                                           Bhutto's party to decide on successor

By Zeeshan Haider
Sat Dec 29, 2007
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Benazir Bhutto's party was due to discuss a successor to the slain Pakistani opposition leader on Sunday and decide whether to contest an election due in little over a week.
Bhutto's assassination in a suicide attack on Thursday has stoked violence and thrown into doubt the January 8 election, deepening the crisis in the key U.S. ally against terrorism as it struggles to emerge from military rule.

Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party has dismissed government accusations that she was killed by al Qaeda, saying President Pervez Musharraf's embattled administration was trying to cover up its failure to protect her.

Without the charismatic Bhutto, 54, her party is in disarray.

Bhutto's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, is to read her will on Sunday but the Oxford law student is seen as too young to lead a dynasty whose history is entwined with that of Pakistan.

The choice of a successor lies between Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and her top aide, Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

"Everybody in the party knows that they have to stick to the legacy of Bhutto and without that legacy, they are nobody," said Najam Sethi, editor of the Daily Times.

The party leadership, due to meet in Bhutto's home town of Naudero in southern Pakistan, must also decide whether to contest the election if it goes ahead.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's opposition party has said it would boycott the vote and has been trying to convince Bhutto's PPP to do likewise.

So far the government has not announced any decision to call off or postpone the vote, but the Election Commission says it is planning an emergency meeting on Monday.


Although President George W. Bush has urged Pakistanis to hold the election, a White House spokesman said it was up to Pakistan's authorities to determine the timing.

Washington had encouraged Bhutto, relatively liberal by Pakistan's standards and an opponent of Islamic militancy. She returned home from self-imposed exile in October, hoping to become prime minister for the third time.

Her death wrecked U.S. hopes of a power-sharing deal between her and Musharraf, who took power in a military coup in 1999 but left the army last month to become a civilian president.

When asked by the BBC on Saturday if he wanted to take over the party leadership, Bhutto's husband replied "It depends on the party and it depends on the will."

Zardari can ooze charm, and gained respect for enduring eight years in jail before being released without being convicted. However, political foes accuse him of corruption and many PPP loyalists blame him for tainting the Bhutto name.

Many PPP leaders are from Bhutto's land-owning feudal class, yet the party also has a big following among the uneducated poor yearning for democracy.

Anger against Musharraf burns strongly among Bhutto's supporters and Pakistan remained on edge after the violence that followed the killing. The death toll since then stood at 44.

A close aide who prepared Bhutto's body for burial dismissed as "ludicrous" a government theory that she died after hitting her head on a sunroof during the suicide attack. A party spokesman said she was shot in the head.

The PPP has said the government must also show hard evidence al Qaeda is to blame. The al Qaeda-linked militants who were accused have denied any role in the killing. A spokesman for militant leader Baitullah Mehsud said "We don't strike women."

(Writing by Matthew Tostevin; editing by Keith Weir)
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2007, 07:39:29 pm »

Bilawal Bhutto, 19-year-old son of Benazir Bhutto,
and Asif Zardari, Bhutto's husband stand over the
grave of the former Pakistani opposition leader
after her burial inside the family mausoleum on
the family estate, on December 28, 2007.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2007, 07:41:23 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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