A senior official of Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told TIME late Saturday that the slain former prime minister’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, will likely be named as her political heir and the new party leader on Sunday. PPP members are due to meet to discuss the party’s future and to give Bilawal, a student at Oxford, a chance to read his mother’s last will and testament.
A Pakistani television news channel also carried reports that Bilawal will be made the new leader, which the channel said accorded with Benazir Bhutto’s wishes. If confirmed, the teenager will become the third leader of the 40-year-old center-left party, one of Pakistan’s most powerful. Bilawal will follow his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who founded the PPP in 1967, led Pakistan as Prime Minister for four years in the mid 1970s and was hanged in 1979 by a military government, and Benazir, who took over from her father and was killed in a shooting and suicide bomb attack two days ago.
Bhutto’s wishes were apparently laid out in a secret will that she left in the possession of her controversial widower, Asif Zardari, (aka Mr Ten Percent), who has also been mentioned as a possible successor:
Asked whether he wanted to lead the party, [Zardari] didn’t dismiss it.
“Lets see…. It depends on the party and it depends on the will.”
However, according to Michael Hirsch of Newsweek,
Zardari is expected to act as a kind of regent to [Bilawal] until he comes of age, a close family friend who has read the will told NEWSWEEK on Saturday.
Further complicating matters:
Neither Bilawal nor Zardari, however, is expected to be named as the prime ministerial candidate of the PPP, the friend said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. That honor will go to a senior official, although it is not believed to be Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of the party who served as interim leader during Bhutto’s eight-year exile. [note: according to TIME’s source, Fahim is touted to be the PM candidate–tangled fuckin’ webs–mb]
As Hirsch also points out, Zardari is “widely blamed for the tangle of corruption that strangled and cut short Bhutto’s two terms in office.”
Arif Rafiq of Pakistan Policy Blog compiled a list on Friday of potential successors to Benazir Bhutto; at this point, your guess is as good as mine