The 24-year-old son of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto launched his political career yesterday with a fiery speech before thousands of cheering supporters observing the fifth anniversary of his mother’s assassination.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s speech came several months before national elections are expected to be held.
He is too young to participate in the elections – the minimum age is 25 – but is likely to be a key asset for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. The party’s popularity has plummeted since it took power nearly five years ago as the country has struggled with a weak economy and bloody Taleban insurgency.
Mr Zardari was made chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party after his mother’s death but has mainly played a background role while he completed his studies at Oxford University.
The crowd of supporters gathered yesterday in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh village in southern Sindh province, site of the Bhutto family mausoleum.
The Bhutto family has played a prominent role in Pakistani politics for much of the country’s 65-year history.
Both Mr Zardari and his father, president Asif Ali Zardari, sought to whip up the emotions of the crowd by shouting “Long live Bhutto” and “Bhutto is alive”.
Many of the supporters waved the red, black and green flag of the Pakistan People’s Party and held pictures of Benazir Bhutto.
“If you kill one Bhutto, one thousand more Bhuttos will emerge,” said the younger Zardari.
He took a swipe at the judiciary, which has clashed with the current government, by asking why people arrested for suspected involvement in his mother’s murder have yet to be convicted.
However, critics have questioned why the president has not done more to push forward the investigation.