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Bhutto's son: Democracy is revenge

  • Story Highlights
  • Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says he intends to take political role in homeland
  • Zardari is the 19-year-old son of assassinated ex-Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto
  • Zardari says he will complete his studies at Oxford University
  • Zardari has been appointed party chairman of the Pakistan People's Party
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, said Tuesday that he fully intended to take on a political role in his homeland but only after he has completed his studies at Oxford University.

The 19-year-old gave his first full news conference since taking on the role of party chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the party his mother led until her death two weeks ago.

Zardari said he was asked to take on the role because the party felt it was important to keep a link with his mother "through the bloodline."

"I was called on and I stepped up and I did what I had to do," Zardari told an audience of reporters in central London.

He paid tribute to his "courageous" mother. "We have lost our best hope but not our only hope," he said.

He said his mother's death had made him more "resilient."

Zardari will take no part in upcoming elections which will be contested by his father and Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari.

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Before a packed audience, the young student looked composed but admitted he was nervous as he asked members of the press to respect his privacy during his upcoming studies.

Zardari is studying history at Christ Church College and has three more years of his course to run.

Asked if he was afraid for his own safety in the wake of his mother's assassination, he said: "I fear for my privacy."

He said the best solution to tackling extremism was to end what he called the "dictatorship" rule of incumbent Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf.

In charge in Pakistan since 1999, Musharraf has been criticized by the PPP for not doing enough to safeguard Bhutto, who died after her convoy was attacked by a gunman and suicide bomb blast when she was campaigning in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

Zardari said "dictatorship feeds extremism" and went on to accuse the United States of "supporting dictators."

Zardari, who has lived most of his life in Dubai and Britain following his mother's exile from Pakistan, denied suggestions that he would not be able relate to the Pakistani people.

He is the third generation of his family to assume a leading role in the PPP -- the party was set up by his grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's first elected prime minister.

Asked if he felt it was inconsistent with democracy to continue a dynasty, he said it was up to the Pakistani voters to decide. Elections are scheduled to take place on February 18.

Zardari made his first public appearance before the world only three days after his mother's death when he was announced as the new chair of the Pakistan's People's Party.

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During that appearance he spoke only briefly raising his voice as he invoked the words of his mother.

"My mother always said democracy is the best revenge," he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Benazir BhuttoPervez MusharrafPakistan Peoples PartyZulfikar Ali BhuttoAsif Ali ZardariPakistanPakistani Politics

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