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Bilawal: Is he really that ‘hot’?

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim, IANS

Karachi : Ever wondered what Benazir Bhutto, the slain Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader, would have thought of the way her 19-year-old son Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto is being wooed and fawned over, not just in cyber world but in her hometown of Karachi?

There seems to be no stopping the global members – now 2,264 (the numbers are inflating as we speak) – of the Facebook virtual group ‘Let’s not assassinate Bilawal Bhutto because he’s cute, ok?’ which suddenly sprouted after Bilawal was crowned the new leader of his mother’s party.

It has photographs, song dedications, video posts and even an ugly and out-of-hand catfight.

With their imagination running amok, the young women members of the group seem more like cyber stalkers of the Oxford undergrad, calling him their “romeo” with “yummy eyes”, “perfect nose”, “rosy cheeks” and a “flirty” smile.

There is also a ludicrously funny ‘Want to marry Bilawal Zardari Bhutto’ group, of Pakistani origin with 20 members, challenging “Do you have what it takes to become Mrs Bhutto Zardari?”

But this adulation is not restricted to cyberspace alone.

Back home, in Pakistan, there is a teeming crowd of young girls, mostly from private, up-market schools, who just knew vaguely of Bilawal Bhutto as Benazir’s son (though some said they knew that the Zardari home in Karachi was named after Bilawal as was the roundabout in that neighbourhood and that’s about it), have suddenly fallen in love with him and become his most loyal supporters.

In five years when he returns, he would already have a large vote bank of affluent, English-speaking, pretty and fashionable cheer leaders to welcome his homecoming, and for whom the PPP slogan of ‘roti, kapra, makan’ (food, clothing, shelter) would have no meaning.

And among these pretty little things are those who’ve even begun to enjoy Pakistani-style politics akin to a soap opera with action (a few killings thrown in for good measure), drama and the missing ingredient – love.

However, there is yet another league which has begun comparing him to his cousin, Zulfiqar Junior (son of Benazir’s slain brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto) and find the latter far more attractive – or to be precise a “hundred times better” looking than Bilawal as say quite a few young women who either study in the same school as the latter or are in the same tuition group as him, or know of him distantly through friends of friends.

Then there is 15-year-old Asma Abid, who finds Bilawal just another “ordinary bloke” and is rather annoyed by all this preposterous fanaticism. “It’s because he’s the only 19-year-old in politics studying at Oxford, and has an accent.” She thinks he should be left alone and given time and space to grieve and not be stalked like this.

Abid saw the first glimpse of Bilawal on TV at his mother’s funeral and her first reaction was “he’s not at all political like his mother, neither is he aggressive like his father Asif Zardari.” She says he carried himself with “dignity” and was much “composed” considering the circumstances.

Asha Inam, 16, hates the name Bilawal. “Quite unsuitable for a cute guy like him”, she says candidly. However, what she likes in him is his “ambitious” streak because he “readily accepted the PPP leadership”. But unlike two of her best friends, she wouldn’t want to marry him “for I don’t want to live in fear for my husband’s or my life.”

(Zofeen T. Ebrahim can be contacted at [email protected])