Benazir’s son to address PPP meeting in Britain

August 2nd, 2010 - 12:39 am ICT by IANS  

Benazir Bhutto By Venkata Vemuri
London, Aug 1 (IANS) Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, the son of slain former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the current President of the country Asif Zardari, will be addressing a meeting of the the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Birmingham for the first time since his graduation from Oxford University.

Bilawal, who was appointed chairman of the PPP after the death of his mother in December 2007, has reportedly been waiting to enter politics after he attains the age of 21 and obtains his graduation degree. The 1988-born Bilawal has recently graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford.

Zardari, who is scheduled to arrive in London on a six-day visit next week, will be attending the PPP convention in Birmingham Aug 7 to address British Pakistanis and supporters of the party.

The party has made extensive preparations at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Fauzia Habib, in-charge of PPP’s overseas desk in London, told IANS that Bilawal would be attending the Birmingham meeting. She said he had addressed his party supporters in Britain for the first time at a rally in Bradford last June.

The visit of Zardari and his trip to Birmingham are embroiled in a controversy with a section of the Pakistani media claiming that huge sums of money are being spent on the visit.

Pakistan’s press and information department, in a release, said Sunday the president will “visit Birmingham by car” to economise. It added: “The hall booked by the High Commission is the cheapest hall available at a very special discounted price. Pakistan Peoples Party will bear expenses for the vans carrying the party activists to the community meeting. All ministers and senior members of the party have been instructed to pay their bills themselves.”

The release said upon his scheduled arrival Monday, President Zardari “will stay in the cheapest five-star hotel in city centre which provides best corporate room rates to Pakistan High Commission during his official visit” to Britain between Aug 3-8.

About the transportation and food costs for the visit, the release said: “The High Commission has booked eight-seater vans for the delegates which would cost three times less than luxury cars. Food has been arranged for the delegates from a Pakistani restaurant at an unbelievable price for which even one cannot buy a sandwich in London.”

The Pakistan president is expected to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron in London Aug 6. The meeting takes place in the backdrop of Pakistan’s angry reaction to Cameron’s remarks in New Delhi about Pakistan’s role in terrorism.

The Pakistan government has said Zardari’s visit will stand in spite of the remarks, though they did result in the country’s ISI chief cancelling his visit to Britain.

(Venkata Vemuri can be contacted at venkata.v@ians.in)

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