Bhutto’s Son, Husband to Take Over Pakistan Peoples Party
Bhutto was killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack during a campaign rally Thursday. The exact cause of her death, whether by a gunman or the explosion as the government contends, is still under investigation.
Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, named her husband Asif Ali Zardari as her successor in her will. He, in turn, nominated their 19-year-old son Bilawal Zardari to lead the party, which he intends to do once he finishes at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
“My mother always said democracy is the best revenge,” Bilawal Zardari said at a media conference late Sunday, the Associated Press reported. “The party’s long struggle for democracy will continue with renewed vigor.”
The appointment of Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari as party co-chairman is not without controversy. He was jailed for eight years on corruption charges and for allegedly taking kickbacks while Bhutto was prime minister.
A spokeswoman for the Pakistan Peoples Party said the PPP would continue to participate in the elections, and another opposition party leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reversed his decision to boycott the vote.
Pakistani President Pervez “Musharraf must go immediately,” Sharif said in a televised news conference in Lahore, reported Bloomberg News. “A national consensus government should be formed and free and fair elections held.”
The Election Commission is expected to make a final decision Tuesday on whether or not to postpone the elections.
The AP quoted an unnamed government official as saying the vote would probably be delayed by about six weeks to ensure fair elections.
Bhutto’s death sparked riots in Pakistan’s main cities, causing the deaths of at least 44 people, as her supporters burned offices, shops and cars, and exchanged gunfire with police.
City life was starting to return to normal Monday, with soldiers and police on patrol, and the streets in the southern city of Karachi, where the worst violence occurred over the past few days, were quiet, witnesses reportedly said.