History of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (1988 to 2016)
Bilawal was born at Lady Dufferin Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan on 21 September 1988,as the first of three children of future Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari who later became the President of Pakistan in 2008. He was only three months old when his mother, Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. He has two sisters Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Asifa Bhutto Zardari. He is also the grandson of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Bilawal was admitted to Aitchison College, Lahore, but due to security threats he moved to Karachi Grammar School and later attended Froebel’s International School in Islamabad. He left Pakistan with his mother in April 1999. His father was in jail in Pakistan from 1996 to 2004 for corruption charges.
He spent his childhood in Dubai and London during his family’s self-exile. He later attended Rashid School For Boys in Dubai, where he was Vice President of the student council. He has a black belt in Taekwondo but regrets he could not play cricket because of his family circumstances.
In 2007, Bilawal Zardari enrolled at Christ Church, a constituent college of the University of Oxford. He studied British history and later transitioned to study general history. Benazir also enrolled in the Oxford Union debating society. In December 2007, he returned to Pakistan after Benazir was assassinated. He also returned to Pakistan in September 2008 to witness his father sworn in as President of Pakistan. Bilawal completed his education in June 2010.
After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Benazir’s political will declared Asif Ali Zardari as Benazir’s successor for party leadership. However, Bilawal became Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party because Zardari favoured Bilawal to represent Bhutto’s legacy in part to avoid division within the party due to Zardari’s own unpopularity. Zardari planned to act as co-chairman of the PPP for at least three years until Bilawal completed his studies overseas.
Bilawal was appointed chairman of the PPP on 30 December 2007. Asif Zardari also announced Bilawal’s name change from “Bilawal Zardari” to “Bilawal Bhutto Zardari”. At that time he was still studying at Oxford. It had been estimated that Bilawal’s security at Oxford may cost at least one million pounds each year.
In 2011, Bilawal returned to Pakistan and became more actively involved in Pakistan politics, notably when his father went for medical care to Dubai in December 2011. In May 2012, Bilawal Zardari stated that Pakistan asked the Interpol to issue a “red warrant” against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in relation to his mother’s assassination case. He made his major public speech on 27 December 2012, which marked the fifth death anniversary of his mother.
In 2011, it was announced that Bilawal would be the next Tumandar (Chief) of the Baloch Zardari tribe as his father Asif Ali Zardari passed on the title to Bilawal rather than becoming the Tribal Chief himself after the death of his father Hakim Ali Zardari.
In 2013 Bilawal turned 25, thus becoming eligible to run for the National Assembly, as the Pakistan Constitution requires the minimum age of lawmakers to be 25. Asif Ali Zardari rejected the notion that Bilawal might run for the by-election seat but said that he will contest the next general election due in 2018.
While addressing the party workers in Multan region in Punjab on 19 September 2014, Bilawal proclaimed that he would take all of Kashmir from India, without explaining how he proposed to do so.
“I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying.
The statement drew sharp criticism in neighbouring India. A group calling themselves the Indian Hackers Online Squad replaced the PPP’s official website’s homepage with messages ridiculing Bilawal for his comments, and stating that “You will never get Kashmir”.