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Rival clan wants Bhutto's son to defect

world Updated: Jan 09, 2008 20:58 IST

AFP
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After years of discord in Pakistan's top political dynasty, Benazir Bhutto's sister-in-law has stoked up the family feud by saying she wants the opposition leader's son to join her rival party.

Ghinwa Bhutto has been estranged from the former premier since her husband, Benazir's younger brother Murtaza, was gunned down amid shady circumstances in Karachi 12 years ago while Bhutto was still in power.

In the latest twist to the feuding that has torn the country's "royal family" apart, Lebanese-born Ghinwa said that after Bhutto's assassination she now hopes to woo Bhutto's 19-year-old son Bilawal to her side.

"We'll try to bring him to our party," Ghinwa told AFP at her sprawling home in the southern town of Larkana -- a portrait of her husband on one side of her and a photograph of a young Benazir on the other.

Asked how she intended to get the Oxford undergraduate to defect, she said: "I don't know, with love and affection and education. Maybe when he comes back he might like our set-up better than the set-up of the other party."

Any such move would be fiercely resisted by the Pakistan People's Party, which kept the leadership in the family for a third generation by naming Bilawal and his father Asif Ali Zardari as co-chairmen after Benazir's death.

While his role will be minimal until his studies are over, the teenager told reporters in London yesterday that he agreed to lead the PPP because "the party needed a close association with my mother through the bloodline".

Ghinwa heads a breakaway faction called the Pakistan People's Party-Shaheed Bhutto -- named in honour of her "martyr (shaheed)" husband -- for which she is standing as an MP in Pakistan's February 18 elections.