Archive for February 5th, 2008

On Tuesday, newswires reported that assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto‘s party, the PPP (Pakistan’s People’s Party) published her political will, in which she called for her husband to lead the party and said she feared for the country’s future. Reuters cited a party spokesman who said “the will was being released to end any doubts about Bhutto’s wishes for the leadership of the party.” Following Bhutto’s assassination on December 27, her husband Ali Zardari, and her son Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, were made joint chairmen of the PPP. In her political will, reportedly read out to party leaders after her funeral but kept private until today, Bhutto wrote, “I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead you in this interim period until you and he decide what is best…I say this because he is a man of courage and honor. He spent 11 years in prison without bending despite torture. He has the political stature to keep our party united.”According to Reuters, “Zardari, who was jailed on corruption charges but denied any wrongdoing, is regarded as a divisive figure. But with Bilawal still too young to run for parliament and yet to complete his university studies in Britain, it is Zardari who is the de facto leader of the party as it prepares for a February 18 general election.” The PPP, reported CNN, will restart its campaign this week for the elections following the end of its 40 day self-imposed mourning period. Reuters added, “The PPP is likely to gain a considerable sympathy vote in the parliamentary elections because of Bhutto’s murder.”

However, will this new development and Zardari’s forefront role in the party impact voters’ perceptions of the PPP? According to a profile released by BBC News, Zardari has been seen as a political liability for his late wife’s party. Widely known in Pakistan as “Mr. 10%,” his corruption charges and alleged link to the murder of his brother-in-law Murtaza Bhutto in 1996, have seemingly haunted his reputation. However, even when he first married Benazir, Zardari apparently knew he was the “designated fall guy,” a title he reportedly accepted, according to the BBC. Will this title come to haunt the party now before election time? Have perceptions of Zardari changed since Benazir’s assassination?

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