Benazir Bhutto's son opposes Pakistan privatisation plans

Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (right) and his sister Bakhtawar wave to supporters at a rally in Karachi on Nov 30, 2013. Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan's slain premier Benazir Bhutto, vowed on Saturday to
Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (right) and his sister Bakhtawar wave to supporters at a rally in Karachi on Nov 30, 2013. Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan's slain premier Benazir Bhutto, vowed on Saturday to resist a massive privatisation drive planned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government. -- PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI (AFP) - Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan's slain premier Benazir Bhutto, vowed on Saturday to resist a massive privatisation drive planned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government.

The 25-year-old, who is being groomed to lead the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) that was heavily defeated at polls in May, accused Mr Sharif of seeking personal gain from a planned sell off of more than 30 state-run loss making organisations.

"We are against privatisation hundred per cent... and we will not let it happen," he said, addressing a workers' gathering to mark the 47th anniversary of the founding of his party.

"This is not privatisation but this is personalisation," he added, in a reference to alleged nepotism.

The privatisation list contains the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and the Steel Mills, a state-owned behemoth set up by former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Bilawal's grandfather, in the 1970s.

Mr Bilawal's mother was killed in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007 after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, a garrison city adjoining the capital Islamabad.

Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who founded the party, was hanged in 1979 in a politically motivated murder case after being ousted in a coup and arrested by former dictator General Ziaul Haq.

Mr Bilawal is being groomed to lead the party by his father Asif Ali Zardari who was president of the country from 2008 until earlier this year.

Critics believe Mr Bilawal may not reflect the charismatic charm of his mother and legacy of his grandfather who founded the party in 1967.

His public appearances are also restricted due to security fears and threats issued by Taleban militants.

The centre-left PPP ran a rudderless general election campaign earlier this year and was thrust into a major crisis, suffering a crushing electoral defeat.

But Mr Bilawal challenged his critics and said that his party would stage a comeback in the next national elections in 2018.

"We will show before the 2018 elections that PPP is alive and far much better than before," he said as party workers stood up and chanted slogans.