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Benazir Bhutto's Son Launches Political Career With Pledge To Protect Democracy

The son of Pakistan's President and chairman of ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has promised to fight militancy to protect democracy, and vowed to continue his mother's fight for the struggle for the poor.

Making his first major political speech on the fifth anniversary of his slain mother and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on Thursday, the Oxford-educated Bilawal said PPP would not abandon Pakistan nor would it allow "anti-democratic forces" in the country to steal the people's rights.

Bilawal, 24, took over as PPP chief after his mother Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack during an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. He cannot stand for the general elections, which is due in the spring, as he will not reach the age of 25 by that time.

Justifying the economic policies of the Government, he claimed that Pakistan is self sufficient despite the challenges posed by terrorism.

Political analysts termed Bilawal's emotionally charged speech at the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, near Larkana, in the southern province of Sindh, as the launch of his political career.

The grandson of executed former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Bilawal is the third generation of the Bhutto family to enter active politics.

"We have chosen a very difficult path," he told a crowd of tens of thousands who gathered under tight security in the home place of the Bhutto family, assuring a bright future for Pakistan.

Bilawal highlighted PPP's policy of reconciliation with all political parties.

The Dawn quoted his spokesman Aijaz Durrani as saying that the event would mark the start of a new chapter in Pakistan's political history.

Bilawal's father and President Asif Ali Zardari listened to the speech that was broadcast live on Radio and Television.

by RTT Staff Writer

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