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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 13:08 GMT
Bhutto's son seeks media privacy
Bilawal Bhutto addresses London news conference, 8 January
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said his studies would come first

Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal, has urged the media to leave him alone, a week after he was named joint leader of her opposition Pakistan People's Party.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 19, said he hoped his privacy would be respected while he studied at Oxford University.

He told a news conference in London that his father would be in charge of the party while he was a student.

The teenager was chosen to lead the party after his mother was assassinated at an election rally late last month.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's comments came on the day Pakistan's national and provincial elections should have been held.

The killing of Benazir Bhutto sparked days of nationwide unrest in which more than 50 people were killed. The vote has been postponed until 18 February.

'Left alone'

The news conference in London was the first time the teenager had addressed the world's media since being thrust into the spotlight a little over a week ago.

Asif Ali Zardari at news conference, 30 December
Asif Ali Zardari (pictured) Benazir's widower and former political ally, has faced corruption and other charges
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Benazir's son, a 19-year-old Oxford University student, considered too young by some PPP members
Makhdoom Amin Fahim Senior PPP figure and top aide to Benazir

Surrounded by party officials and aides, he said he had agreed to take over from his mother because "politics is in my blood".

But he added: "My experience to date is limited... I intend to learn."

For the time being, his father Asif Ali Zardari would be in charge of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said. He himself would step into his role only gradually, once his studies were complete.

Ms Bhutto's son grew up being called Bilawal Zardari, but it was announced after her death that the couple's children would be called Bhutto Zardari.

The teenager criticised the lengths some journalists had gone to in tracking down his personal details, particularly on the social networking site, Facebook.

"When I am at Oxford I hope I can be left alone."

He said his position as PPP chairman reflected the "collective will of the party", and he denied repeated suggestions by journalists that perpetuating the Bhutto "dynasty" conflicted with democracy.

"I do not claim to have any aspiration. I was called and I stepped up to do what I was asked to do."


Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said that had the Pakistan authorities given his mother adequate protection she would still be alive today.

He welcomed the assistance of United Kingdom police in the investigation into his mother's death, but reiterated a call for a United Nations-sponsored inquiry.

"We do not believe that an investigation under the authority of the Pakistani government has the necessary transparency," he said.

"Already so much forensic evidence has been destroyed."

Scotland Yard detectives met President Pervez Musharraf "to share their initial findings" on Tuesday, government officials said.

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