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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benazir's son, husband hold key to legacy

This is from the Khaleej Times. Bhutto's husband sounds like a prime candidate to visit the Bush ranch at Crawford Texas. Maybe he could become part of the circle of crony capitalists around Bush and his crew.

Benazir’s son, husband hold key to legacy
(AFP)

30 December 2007



ISLAMABAD - The son and husband of Benazir Bhutto are among the main contenders for the leadership of the slain Pakistani opposition leader’s party, which is likely to be decided Sunday.


A senior aide to Bhutto said the former premier’s son was not keen to enter politics yet, leading to speculation that her widower Asif Ali Zardari could effectively take charge of the party until he is older.

Whatever the outcome, both will remain key figures in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founded four decades ago by Bhutto’s father and now the crisis hit country’s biggest opposition group.

BILAWAL: At just 19, the mantle of the Bhutto family’s bloodstained legacy would lie heavy on the head of Benazir’s only son, Bilawal.

If picked for the top slot in the PPP he would be the third leader in its history after his mother and his grandfather, Zufilqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the party and was executed under martial law in 1979.

But he has already shown signs of following in his mother’s footsteps, enrolling earlier this year at Oxford University, where Benazir Bhutto was head of the prestigious Oxford Union debating society.

Bilawal -- meaning one without equal -- was born in September 1988, a month before his mother won general elections under military dictator Zia-ul-Haq to become Pakistan’s first female premier.

“I went back to sleep and woke up to the sound of a congratulatory gunshot being fired outside the hospital, the beating of drums and cries of “Jiye (Long Live) Bhutto. The most celebrated and politically controversial baby in the history of Pakistan had been born,” Bhutto said in her autobiography.

He and his two sisters went into exile with their mother in 1999, dividing their time between London and Dubai, where Bilawal attended school. Reports in local newspapers said he was keen on outdoor sports including target-shooting and horse riding.

At Benazir’s funeral on Friday he was pictured looking composed despite his grief, but analysts say he is currently too young to lead the party.

“Bilawal is just 19 years old, he needs to be groomed,” political analyst and retired general Talat Masood said.

“They should let him complete his education. When he is in a position to assume he should be given the mantle.”

ZARDARI: Nicknamed “Mr. Ten Percent” by Pakistanis because of allegations about kickbacks from his wife’s time in power, Asif Ali Zardari, 51, has gone from playboy to villain and now to grieving political widower.

When he married into the Bhutto political dynasty in 1987, Zardari, then 31, was the little known scion of a landowning polo-playing family from southern Sindh province.

He was born on July 21, 1956 in the rural Sindh district of Nawabshah and schooled in the commercial capital Karachi at the Saint Patrick High School, alma mater of President Pervez Musharraf.

He graduated from the Petaro Cadet College in 1972, an army-run institution known for its discipline and regimented life.

After their arranged marriage Zardari gradually carved out an influential position for himself under his wife’s two tenures in power.

But he was back behind bars within half an hour of the dismissal of Bhutto’s second government in 1996.

Zardari spent eight years in jail -- five of them while his family lived in exile -- before being freed in November 2004 after being cleared over the last of 17 cases of corruption, murder and drug smuggling.

His passion for thoroughbred horses was well known and landed into trouble. One of the charges against him was that he maintained a costly stable in the prime minister’s official residence in Islamabad at state expense.

“Zardari has a very tainted record. He may not consider himself suitable for the party leadership,” Masood said.

“He may leave it to some senior member to lead the party. It will be more appropriate for the party and for him.”



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