NEWS: In Pakistan, Bhutto dynasty continues; Islamic parties lose support

Islamic parties lose support in Pakistan

As Pakistan confronts an uncertain future after former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s slaying, one thing is clear: Islamic parties sympathetic to al Qaida and the Taliban have lost a great deal of support since they won their greatest political victory in the country’s history five years ago.

“Giving your vote to the religious parties is just wasting your vote,” snorted tailor Abdul Sattar Mughal, 37, as he sat at an old sewing machine in a tiny back-street shop close to where Bhutto died. “They don’t deliver anything; just slogans, nothing more.”

The parties have been hurt by internal splits, leadership rivalries and widespread disdain for the hard-line Islamic rule they advocate. An outpouring of sympathy for Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party unleashed by her death Dec. 27 appears to have drained more support. [complete article]

Benazir Bhutto’s son says he fears Pakistan may disintegrate

Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son made his political debut in a London hotel today and was forced to defend the decision to hand him the leadership of his mother’s Pakistan’s People’s Party “like some piece of family furniture”.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chose his mother’s favourite boutique hotel in Knightsbridge for his first press appearance since her assassination in Rawalpindi 12 days ago.

He began by issuing an appeal to the media to respect his privacy while he completes his education at Oxford, where he is a first-year student at Christ Church college.

But Mr Bhutto Zardari, who was named chairman of the PPP shortly after his mother’s death, made it clear that he intended to follow the family tradition and move on to a career in politics. The PPP was founded 40 years ago by his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former president and prime minister who was executed in 1979. [complete article]

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