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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid