London : The husband of slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, has rejected the government claims that Al Qaeda terrorists killed her.
“Al Qaeda has nothing to fear; why would they fear us? Are they our political opponents?” he said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper published Tuesday.
“They want to muddy the waters. Even (the late US president John F) Kennedy’s murder is not solved. What do they do? They always find 10 excuses and 10 people to blame, and one to hang,” Zardari said.
His comments came after fresh footage showed Bhutto died from an assassin’s bullet rather than from a blow to her head or a bomb explosion, as claimed by the Pakistan government.
Zardari, who is now co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), defended the decision to appoint their politically inexperienced 19-year-old son Bilawal the party chairman. It was crucial to the survival of Pakistan, he said.
“The party has gone into a very aggressive mode. People are talking about breaking the country, of forgetting democracy. (They’re saying) ‘We’ve had enough of these generals, let’s go for all-out war’,” Zardari said.
“In order to keep that cohesiveness, to channel that anger into a democratic force, one has to give them a symbol that belongs to her… That would give them a new hope. That is the reason.”
Zardari said a committee of regents, headed by himself, would retain PPP power until Bilawal has completed his education at Christ Church College, Oxford University, and is fully groomed to take on his mother’s mantle.
“Slowly we will groom him. He will first complete his studies. When he’s graduated, he will join the party and work for it,” Zardari told the newspaper.
Zardari admitted that Benazir had not named Bilawal her successor – she had only specified Zardari – but added he believed it was “part of her legacy”.
“If there’s no continuity, you do not exist. Only in continuity do you exist. I’m sure she would have it in her mind that one day her children would inherit a better kind of Pakistan, not this kind of volatile and violent one – a better Pakistan,” he said.
Zardari also dismissed criticism that Bilawal’s appointment was anti-democratic, saying 52 PPP leaders unanimously took the decision.
“Everyone agreed upon it. They could have said, ‘We accept you but we would not like a young man to be leading us.’ Nobody said that. In fact, they were happier. … If that’s not democratic, what is?” he said.