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Will silences Zardari critics

world Updated: Feb 06, 2008 03:19 IST
Kamal Siddiqi
Kamal Siddiqi
Hindustan Times
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Benazir Bhutto's political will was finally made public on Tuesday following growing murmurs amongst Pakistan People's Party (PPP) workers and other sections questioning whether the assassinated leader had indeed intended her husband to succeed her as party chief.

The will does indeed call for Asif Zardari to lead the party after her, and also reveals her great concern for her country's future.

PPP spokesperson Sherry Rehman said the contents of the will were being made known to all to end any doubts about Benazir Bhutto's wishes after her death. The one-page, hand-written document is dated October 16, or two days before she returned to Pakistan from eight years of self-exile.

At a press conference Sherry Rehman clarified that this was Bhutto's political will, quite separate from her personal one discussing how her assets should be divided. "The latter will remain private," she declared.

Another party spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said there had been questions about why the will was not made public at the time of her funeral. "Well, everybody now can see it," he said. "It's in her own handwriting and any doubt or misgivings about the leadership of the party can be set aside now by all," Babar said.

Even before this official release, a copy of the handwritten will had been posted on the website of Newsweek magazine. "I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead you in this interim period until you and he decide what is best. I say this because he is a man of courage and honour," the will maintains.

"He spent 11 and a half years in prison without bending despite torture. He has the political stature to keep our party united."

This part of the will had been read out by her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the crucial party meeting on December 30 following Benazir's death, though the entire will was not revealed. It was on the basis of this that Zardari was given the leadership of the PPP and at his suggestion Bilawal was made the chairman.

In the one-page will, Benazir urges PPP workers to continue the mission of her father. She pays rich tribute to PPP workers, who in her words have worked honestly and sincerely for the completion of Quaid-e-Awam Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's mission for the establishment of a democratic Pakistan.

In her will, Benazir expressed her hope that party workers would succeed in fulfilling the PPP manifesto, adding the party workers would work for the elimination of poverty from the country and keep working for national progress.