News / Asia

Bhutto's Son Launches Political Career in Pakistan

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, makes a speech to launch his political career during the fifth anniversary of his mother's death, at the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, near Larkan
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, makes a speech to launch his political career during the fifth anniversary of his mother's death, at the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, near Larkan
Reuters
 The only son of assassinated former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto told hundreds of thousands of supporters on Thursday, the fifth anniversary of his mother's death, that he would carry forward her legacy, an appearance designed to anoint him as a political heir.

"I am the heir to the martyr,'' Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 24, told the crowd in the southern province of Sindh, referring to his mother and to his grandfather, the founder of the current ruling party who was hanged by a former military ruler. "If you kill one Bhutto, there will be a Bhutto in every house.''

Bhutto was joined by hundreds of high-ranking officials, including the current president, his father Asif Zardari, to commemorate his mother's killing in a gun and suicide attack during a 2007 political campaign rally.

Making his first address to a mass rally televised live, he said: "Bhutto is not a name, it is an obsession, a passion, a love. You can chain our feet to the ground but we will still keep moving.''

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told followers waving the Pakistan People's Party's green, black and red flag that the Oxford-educated Bhutto "will prove to be an important turning point for democracy and politics''.

Bhutto was named party chairman after his mother's death, but his father was named co-chair due to his youth.

 He is still not old enough to contest the elections scheduled for spring - the minimum age is 25. Bhutto, who has his mother's good looks, will only turn 25 in September.

 Zardari, locking arms with his son and waving to the crowd, said: "Bilawal has completed his studies, but the time has now come to complete his political training, to stay in Pakistan among its people and learn from them.''

Benazir Bhutto's killer has never been caught and a U.N. inquiry found that Pakistani authorities had failed to protect her or properly investigate her death. The U.N. also said that high-ranking Pakistani officials had tried to block its investigation.

 In a 30-minute address delivered alongside his mother's onion-domed tomb, Bhutto denounced the courts for what he said was the slow pace of the trial of her alleged killers. He also touched on women's rights, insurgent violence, and the economy.

 Powerful symbol

Benazir Bhutto has become a powerful symbol for the ruling party, which often refers to her as a martyr. The capital's airport and a scheme to give cash to poor families have been named after her. Officials hang her portraits on walls.

The Bhuttos championed the rights of the poor in a country where feudal landlords owned vast tracts of land and agricultural workers often live in deep poverty. Many rally participants waved portraits of Benazir Bhutto wearing her trademark white headscarf.
           Her husband, elected following her death, is less popular.

Zardari was jailed on corruption charges from 1996 to 2004 that he says were politically motivated.

 The president is locked in a power struggle with the Supreme Court, which has been battling to reopen corruption cases against him. Zardari's aides say he has immunity.

 Many Pakistanis are angry that Zardari's government has failed to tackle pervasive corruption or end the daily power cuts that have brought its industrial sector to its knees.
          
The elections should mark the first time in Pakistan's history that one elected civilian government hands power to another.

The nuclear-armed country of 180 million people has a history of military coups. After one such coup, the new military ruler hanged Benazir Bhutto's father in prison in 1979.

Benazir Bhutto served civilian governments as prime minister twice but was dismissed on corruption charges both times.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs