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Heir Apparent
Baby Bhutto Steps Up

© Getty Images.

After a period of transition, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the 25-year old son of assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has firmly planted his feet in Pakistan’s dangerous, fractious political grounds. In a fancy ceremony in Karachi, he officially announced a Sindh Festival to take place early next year, to celebrate the cultural heritage of the province in which his party, the PPP, is based.

This is an important political statement. Traditionally, Sindh has practised a Sufi, more liberal form of Islam that is alien to the more puritanical versions imported from Saudi Arabia that have become mainstream in Pakistan. It also has a large Hindu minority. Given Pakistan’s lurch to the right, Bhutto has been vocal in condemning the Taliban and Pakistan’s ‘Talibanization’.

“They are surrendering our culture, our history, our identity and our religion based on a lie cloaked in an imported, fictionalised version of Islam,” he told the crowd.

Bhutto seeks to revive Pakistan’s left, which took a battering in parliamentary elections earlier this May. He has recently criticized prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s policy of privatization, and has promoted his party’s continued policy of subsidies to the rural poor, that incidentally form his constituency.

While being a product of the land-owning, feudal elite of Pakistan, Bhutto—like his mother—is Oxford-educated and is more comfortable in English than Urdu, Pakistan’s national language. He has also been very active on Twitter, revealing himself to be energetic and responsive.

He has already set his sights on 2018, which is when the government will next hold elections. Until then, he’s definitely one to watch.

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  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Another “limousine liberal” like his grand-father.

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