Not only will Benazir Bhutto’s son take her place as co-chairman as the Pakistan Peoples Party with his father Asif Ali Zardari, but he will have to be kept on the backseat and sidelines while under close security as he finishes his university studies.
Crowned her political successor on Sunday, Bhutto’s 19-year-old son Bilawal will not be eligible to run for parliament for another six years, but banker and party stalwart Haseeb Ala can wait.
“Truly, Benazir left a great vacuum,” said Ala, 48, sitting under an awning outside the towering fortress-like walls of the Karachi home Bhutto named after her only son.
“But the Bhutto name is a legacy. It’s a binding force, because of their sacrifice. He is the future.”
At the same age, fresh-faced Bilawal showed himself assertive and composed on Sunday as he was unveiled as party chairman.
“The party’s long and historic struggle for democracy will continue with a new vigour,” he said. “My mother always said, democracy is the best revenge.”
But is he destined to follow his mother and grandfather into the role of prime minister?
“Time will tell,” Ala said. “But I can tell you this. His eyes spoke truth.”
Renamed Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday to carry on the family name, the party’s new hope has spent most of his life abroad as his mother opted for self-imposed exile rather than face corruption charges she says were politically motivated.
He is set to return to Oxford to complete his degree, with his father, co-chairman of the Bhutto dynasty’s Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari, carrying the torch in his absence.
“Bilawal has a very good sense of humour, he is a gentleman, he has talent. He will fill the vacuum,” said party acolyte Tariq Khan, who worked in Bhutto’s media unit and is still based at Bilawal house.
Both Husband and Son will continue on in Benazir’s legacy and I’m sure they will follow her untimely death as this is Pakistan that we are talking about. After all, Benazir said she knew the risks but the principle of her standing up for the people and democracy outweighed the possibility of her being assassinated.