Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the only son of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister, the late Benazir Bhutto. He has two other siblings – Bakhtawar and Asifa, both younger sisters. At just 23 years of age, Bilawal is the chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, the political entity founded by his maternal grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1967, and has been announced as the next Tumandar (chief) of the Zardari tribe of the Balochs.
Like his grandfather and mother, Zardari attended Oxford University, enrolling for history lessons at Christ Church, a constituent college at Oxford that has produced 13 British Prime Ministers. He has a black belt in Taekwondo.
Bilawal was only three months old when his mother became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He spent a considerable part of his childhood in exile in Dubai and London. He was only 19 years old when his mother was assassinated in a Rawalpindi bomb attack on her rally. Benazir had just come back to Pakistan after a nine-year exile upon reaching an understanding with General Pervez Musharraf which granted her amnesty and non-culpability in all corruption charges.
Bilawal, the son of Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto, inherits an uncomfortable legacy of kangaroo court trials and assassinations.
Bilawal's mother's political will declared his father as her political successor. But Asif Ali Zardari saw it more prudent to have a direct descendent of the Bhuttos assume the role. Zardari had been in jail between 1996 and 2004 on corruption charges and was not particularly popular with all PPP leaders and supporters. He nonetheless continues to be the PPP's co-chairman till Bilawal is groomed fully into a politician and national leader.
The Bhutto family in Pakistan is like the Gandhis in India. Both have controlled the principal political parties in their respective countries and produced multiple prime ministers. Both families, Zulfiqar and Benazir from the Bhuttos and Indira and Rajiv from the Gandhis have witnessed violent deaths. While Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged by the Pakistan military after a Kangaroo court convicted him of conspiracy to murder a political opponent, the other three fell to assassins' bullets and bombs.
That way, Bilawal inherits an uncomfortable legacy and an even more difficult task of setting Pakistan in order as and when the responsibility comes to him.
The Pakistani poet and writer, Fatima Bhutto, happens to be Bilawal's first cousin.