London: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who has been appointed head of Pakistan People's Party following the assassination of her mother Benazir Bhutto, returned to Oxford University on Friday to continue his studies.
Bilawal, whose mother was killed in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007, after she was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi, is facing threats to his life even before he has reached London. Even though he will have a security cover, protecting him will not be easy.
"You have to realise he is at Oxford because he is a student. He attends classes, he lives with other students, he interacts with other students, and as long as he is moving in the public, there is no amount of security possible that will prevent a dedicated suicide assassin from getting him," says Bob Ayres, a security analyst with the Royal Institute for International Affairs.
With its high walls and routine restriction of access, Bilawal could have natural security advantages while in residence at his alma mater Oxford. Though what he is really concerned about is not just security but privacy.
"When I'm at Oxford I hope I can be left alone. I fear more for my privacy," says Bilawal.
Unlike Salman Rushdie, who had to be given security for years in the face of a Fatwa, the whereabouts of Bilawal will be known. And as with the outcry in some media over the cost of providing security to Rushdie, that question could arise over Bilawal too.
"The government will make sure that whatever security resources are required will be paid for. The government may go back to Pakistan and ask for some funding support for this, but the British taxpayer will not be consulted in this decision," Ayres adds.
Christ Church College, where Bilawal is a first-year history student, has long traditions since the days of Henry VIII but education under a gun is not among them.
However, given the current scenario Bilawal will have to have a security ring around him. What shape and form that takes is still being sorted out. But the question as to who will pay for it can never be far away in Britain.