The five-year anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination will bring much more to Pakistan than remembrances and vigils for the slain reformer. Her only son will use the anniversary to enter politics himself and carry on his mother’s mission.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the only son of Benazir Bhutto, is 24 years old and was educated at Oxford University. He was named chairman of the ruling Pakistan’s Peoples’ Party in 2007 when his mother was assassinated, but was not of age to contest an election and enter politics. He will be 25 in September, which is the minimum age to run for office in Pakistan.
His father, Asif Ali Zadari, entered politics after the assassination of his wife and rode a popular wave into the Pakistani presidency. Having a father who is president and a mother who is seen as a martyr for the Pakistani people will ensure his success in achieving political power of his own.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf stated, “Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, following in the tradition of generations, willprove to be an important turning point for democracy and politics. This journey will continueforward.”
Not all Pakistanis are pleased with the nepotism in their politics. President Zadari was jailed between 1996 through 2004 for corruption charges, and many Pakistanis have expressed outrage that his regime has done little to stop the rampant corruption or address major infrastructure failures, such as the constant power outages that cripple the nation’s industrial sector.
National elections in Pakistan are scheduled for next spring, and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will no doubt run for office. With his father’s failures risking the family’s hold on power, the younger’s popularity may be the only way for the family of Benazir Bhutto to continue their political dynasty.
If the elections are successful, it will mark the first time in Pakistan’s history for one elected civilian government to hand over power to another.