Benazir Bhutto’s political heir—her 19-year-old son, Bilawal—held his debut press conference in London this week, saying that he would enter politics “gradually and carefully” but warning that unless upcoming elections are free and fair Pakistan “may disintegrate.” (Financial Times)
What the commentators said
Benazir Bhutto contradicted “the very principles of democracy she claimed to incarnate” by passing on her party’s leadership to her son, said Sarah Chayes and Amir Soltani Sheikholeslami in The Boston Globe (free registration). Political power should not be treated like a “family heirloom.” If Bilawal Bhutto wants to prove he’s worthy, “he should demonstrate his confidence in his party and the people of Pakistan by declining to be coronated, and calling instead for a vote to determine the leadership of his party.”
Clearly foreign journalists don’t think much of “dynastic politics,” said Irfan Husain in the Pakistan daily Dawn. Bilawal Bhutto was grilled about his age and lack of experience in his public debut. But he “handled himself very well under trying circumstances,” and it bodes well that he projected “a certain gravitas unusual in somebody his age.”
“Either he's a natural or he was well prepped,” said Rod Norland in Newsweek.com. Either way, the Bhuttos’ Pakistan People’s Party could do far worse than the “remarkably poised” Bilawal Bhutto. Besides, he’s only 19, and won’t be eligible to run for office in Pakistan until he’s 25. Meanwhile, he’s just an Oxford student eager to get back to his history studies, and pleading for a little privacy.