Islamabad, Dec 27: Slain former premier Benazir Bhutto's 24-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari today made his formal entry into Pakistani politics, pledging to protect his country and its fledgling democratic system from dictators and terrorists.
A combative Bilawal also took on the judiciary for lack of action to punish those arrested for the murder of his mother.
“With Benazir Bhutto as my witness, I vow that the Pakistan Peoples Party will not allow any dictator to snatch the people's rights and that the PPP will not be afraid of any terrorist,” Bilawal told a gathering of tens of thousands that gathered at Garhi Khuda Bux in Sindh province to mark Bhutto's 5th death anniversary.
The ruling PPP chose the massive rally held outside the Bhutto family mausoleum to formally launch Bilawal's career. Though he will not be eligible to contest polls till he turns 25 next September, Bilawal, chairman of the party, is expected to lead the PPP's campaign for next year's general election.
In an emotional speech in Urdu replete with references to sacrifices made by PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir, Bilawal said: “We have chosen the difficult path of democracy that has tears, thorns and stones. This is the same path that (Benazir Bhutto) taught us to walk on”. The PPP, he said, was the “biggest wall against terrorism” while other political forces feared to “even take the name of terrorists”.
Bilawal paid tribute to others killed by the Taliban and militant groups, including Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Awami National Party leader Bashir Ahmad Bilour, and questioned why only those wanting peace and championing democracy were being targeted. While Bilawal did not name the PPP's opponents in his speech, he singled out the judiciary and Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for criticism.