Bhutto's Son Spent Childhood Out of Public Eye
On Sunday, Benazir Bhutto's political party named her son, Bilawal Zardari, as its symbolic leader. Now 19, he has spent most of his childhood in exile in Dubai and London, far out of the public eye.
Independent journalist Victoria Schofield, who attended Oxford University with Benazir Bhutto, sheds some light on the young man, whom she has known since he was a baby.
"He is a very personable young man," she says. "He's just started at Oxford where he has really begun to enjoy himself."
His only political involvement thus far has been in the Oxford Union. And he doesn't speak Urdu, Pakistan's national language. Nonetheless, Schofield insists he is "as ready as he needs to be" to lead the Pakistan Peoples Party.
"I think he would do whatever he feels his mother wanted him to," she says. "He is an intelligent boy, and I feel he'll rise to the challenge."
Bilawal Zardari, who has said he will add Bhutto to his name, spent most of his time growing up far away from his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto's husband was named her successor in her will, but he decided to pass the leadership on to his son. Asif Ali Zardari will take a lead role in the party until his son is ready to take over, which may be when he graduates from the university.
Bhutto's husband has accused the Musharraf government of failing to protect his wife properly, saying this led to her death.
"(Bilawal Zardari's) relationship with his father, at the moment, is in a formative stage," Schofield says.
Like many teenagers, he enjoys watching films and hanging out with his friends, she says.
"He used to enjoy playing chess with my children," she says, adding that he always won.
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