Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Bhutto rises

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the new chairman of Pakistan People’s Party. He is 19. Bilawal is studying political science at Christ Church College in Oxford and was named the head of Pakistan’s largest political party after the shocking assasination of his mom, Benazir Bhutto three days ago.

Although Bilawal is still tender and has a long way to go before earning political stripes, he appeared dignified in his first interaction with media today. For starters he already holds the record of being the youngest head of a major political entity anywhere in the world. In reality, it is the magic of dynasty that works in the subcontinent. Like the surname Gandhi in India, Bhutto is a phenomenon in Pakistan. PPP always needed the Bhutto glue to hold the party together.

Bilawal said today in a press-con that he intends to complete his studies in the west, where both his mom and grandad were ferociously tutored, before he comes back to carry on the prestigious legacy that has been bequeathed to him. While democracy remains an underlying desire, it is the family, the surname, the Bhutto cognomen that matters, Bilawal knows.

While technically Bilawal, a shy teenager, is Zardari but his dad Asif Zardari made it clear today in the same press-con that Bilawal is now officially Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Call it exigency or irony. Immediately people present -- in the press conference -- started shouting, Bilawal Bhutto Zindabad [Long live Bilawal Bhutto]. Zardari was forgotten in a second. I think that was the plan.

However the king’s crown is not always easy to wear. Bhutto’s may have been charismatic but they are jinxed also. They have all died young. Every tragic end has made the Bhutto name more heroic and the Bhutto sacrifice folklore continues. It is daunting for Bilawal, who I am sure, does not even know Urdu, the language of people he may rule some day. The young Turk has a great legacy to carry forward. I hope he makes none of the mistakes of his illustrious ancestors.

Politics in Pakistan is messy. I wish he makes it safe.