"This is a new experience for me, and I'm a bit nervous," he said.He's been thrust into this position because his mother was assassinated by Islamist terrorists, who would most certainly love to do the same to him as well should he pursue a course of action that threatens the Taliban and Islamist dominion over the NWFP, Swat, and Warizistan, let alone go after the Islamists elsewhere in the country.
So began the political career of the 19-year-old chairman of Pakistan's main opposition party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In his first full press conference since the Dec. 27 assassination of his mother, Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto Zardari laid out his plan to finish his three-year history degree at Christ Church College, Oxford and then enter politics, asserting that his lineage makes him a natural future leader of Pakistan.
But what was clear, both in Bhutto Zardari's words and unsure delivery, is that this would-be savior of a Muslim nuclear state on the verge of disintegration is exactly what he appears to be: a teenager nowhere near ready to lead a student union, let alone a country. "Unless I can finish my education and develop enough maturity, I recognize that I will never be in a position to have sufficient wisdom to enter the political arena," Bhutto Zardari himself conceded.
In a crammed and overheated hotel basement, the painful contradictions of Bhutto Zardari's appointment to the chairmanship of the PPP were laid bare: here was a young man dealing with a country plagued by poverty from a boutique hotel in Kensington on behalf of a party claiming to push for democracy even as it consolidates a dynasty. The British press pack was relentless. One BBC journalist asked: "What on earth do you propose as a 19-year-old who has hardly lived in the country, what do you propose you can offer Pakistan, a country of 170 million people?"
Bhutto Zardari replied: "It is true that I haven't lived there, but I was raised by my mother, I was completely and utterly involved in everything she did."
Pakistan was supposed to have held its elections today, but Musharraf's government rescheduled them for February 18 after the assassination. No clearcut leader has emerged, but Bhutto's husband may have the name recognition and the ambition.
The younger Zardari doesn't even meet the age requirements to run for office; that's still another six years away as he must be 25 to run for office (he's only 19). A lot can change in that time, and it's a heavy burden to ask of him at a time when he's got so many people pulling him in so many different directions.
He has, however, demanded a UN investigation into his mother's death. Considering that it's the UN, don't expect a quick response. They're still looking for the real killer in the Rafiq Hariri assassination three years ago and are unwilling to openly admit that Syria was behind the multiple assassinations that have ravaged the Lebanese polity.