Bhutto scion becomes Pakistan’s youngest top diplomat

Islamabad, Apr 27 (EFE).- Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of slain ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto and grandson of former president Zulfikar Bhutto, executed after a military coup, Wednesday took oath as the new Pakistan foreign minister, becoming the youngest top diplomat of the often‐turbulent nation.

Hina Rabbani Khar was the previous youngest foreign minister when she assumed office in August 2011 at the age of 33 years and eight months.

Khar is currently the minister of state for foreign affairs. Her boss is 33 years and seven months, making him the youngest foreign minister of the South Asian nuclear nation.

Zardari joined the cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who replaced Imran Khan after the cricketer-turned-politician lost a no-confidence vote in a power tussle earlier this month.

President Arif Alvi administered the oath to Zardari. His father, Asif Ali Zardari, sister Aseefa Zardari and aunt Sanam Bhutto were present.

Benazir, the first and the only female prime minister of Pakistan, was the daughter of former president and premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, once a dominant force in Pakistani politics.

He founded the Pakistan Peoples Party in 1967, a left-wing political outfit that held power in Pakistan on and off for the last five decades.

The senior-most Bhutto was overthrown in July 1977 and arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on charges of having ordered a political assassination.

Zardari is the chairman of his grandfather’s party, which is now part of the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Sharif, the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

The young politician takes over as the top diplomat when the country faces a new low in its relations with the United States after former prime minister Khan openly accused Washington of conspiring with the PML-N and PPP to oust him from power.

The US has denied Khan’s allegations.

It is the first time Zardari has joined the government as a minister since he entered electoral politics in the 2018 polls.

He was just 19 when his mother was killed in a gun and bomb attack after addressing a public rally on Dec.27, 2007.

He took over his mother’s position as the PPP chairman three days later.

Analysts have questioned the appointment of the ability of a less-experienced Zardari to steer Pakistan’s foreign policy in these diplomatically challenging times.

“Under Bilawal, the role of the foreign ministry will be limited in foreign policy decision making,” Hassan Askari, a political analyst, told EFE.

“It will increase the impression that foreign policy is decided at some other places,” Askari said, pointing to the all-powerful military.

Bhutto was born in September 1988, a month before his mother was elected prime minister.

The heir to one of the most famous South Asian political dynasties has many challenges ahead.

Besides foreign policy matters, he will have to face the political campaign Khan has announced for early elections. If the government survives, its tenure will end in summer 2023.

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