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Bhutto’s Son to Make First Party Speech After Oxford

Benazir Bhutto’s son and political heir is to make his first political speech since graduating from Oxford University, two and a half years after the assassination of his mother, a former Pakistani prime minister.

Bilawal Zardari Bhutto will address supporters of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Birmingham on Aug. 7 during a visit to the English city by his father, President Asif Ali Zardari, said Jamil Soomro, a party spokesman in Karachi. Bhutto, who turns 22 next month, graduated this year with a history degree.

Zardari’s travel in Europe, as floods at home killed 1,500 and violence erupted in Karachi, drew criticism from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto’s chief political rival when she was alive. Zardari will economize on the trip by staying “in the cheapest five-star hotel in central London,” not “in a royal suite but in a relatively cheaper suite,” Pakistan’s embassy in the U.K. said in a press release this week.

The PPP, which headed four of the past six civilian governments in Pakistan, was founded by Benazir Bhutto’s father, former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and always has had a Bhutto as its leader. The party named Bilawal its chairman, and Zardari its co-chairman, following the December 2007 killing of Benazir Bhutto.

Last week, Bilawal accompanied his father to talks in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Pakistani opposition parties have criticized Zardari for his tour of Europe as monsoon floods, the worst in eight decades, ravaged much of the country.

Bilawal Bhutto said previously he would avoid any direct party leadership role until he finished studies at Oxford, where his mother also graduated. Last month, PPP offices in Pakistan held celebrations to mark his graduation

“Now that his education is complete, God willing he will come to Pakistan and actively participate in party affairs,” Soomro said in a telephone interview. Bhutto is to visit Pakistan and meet with the party’s Central Executive Committee to discuss whether or when he might move back to the country, Soomro said.

The date for Bhutto’s trip to Pakistan “has not been announced,” the spokesman said.

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