RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Bhutto's home city of Larkana.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD NOISE)
PHILIP REEVES: Unidentified Man: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
REEVES: The party's senior leaders, the Central Executive Committee, met yesterday at Bhutto's ancestral home in a ragged farming town in the depths of Sindh province. Her last will and testament was read out. Fatul Ababa(ph) was at the meeting. He says Bhutto actually nominated her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, to replace her.
FATUL ABABA: Ms. Bhutto had named Mr. Asif Zardari as the leader of the party. And Asif Zardari, after becoming the leader of the party, the fast decision that he took, he said, I nominate my son.
REEVES: Dressed in black, he held his mother's portrait on his knee. You could see the likeness. He would, he said, continue her work.
BILAWAL BHUTTO: The party's long and historic struggle for democracy will continue with a new vigor, and I stand committed to the stability of the federation. My mother always said democracy is the best revenge.
REEVES: For now Bilawal will be the party leader in name only.
BHUTTO: While I am at university and I will continue my studies, my father will take care of the party. When I return, I promise to lead the party as my mother wanted me to.
REEVES: Fatul Ababa says the party leaders were happy with this outcome.
ABABA: They all unanimously endorsed this. Under the circumstances, this appeared to be the only thread that could keep the beads together.
REEVES: Fassi Janga(ph) was also happy. He's a grizzled veteran party worker who was seating with a friend in a mourning tent nearby.
FASSI JANGA: Bilawal is the family member.
REEVES: He's very young.
MONTAGNE: A symbol of unity.
JAHANGGA: A symbol of unity.
REEVES: What about a caretaker?
JAHANGGA: It's the time of young people. We will teach him.
REEVES: Zardari yesterday called on the United Nations to set up a committee like the one investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Fatul Ababa says seeking justice over Bhutto's death is one reason for participating in the elections.
ABABA: Once we get into political power, we can expose the murderers of Benazir Bhutto. Right now the government is trying to cover up the murder. We will not let the cover-up succeed.
REEVES: At the Bhutto family mausoleum, the anger is almost as palpable as the grief. Hundreds of young men thrust forward to throw rose petals on the mound beneath which Bhutto lies. A few sit cross-legged by her grave reciting prayers. Inam Rahmnajawbani(ph) is among the throng. He's looking forward to voting.
INAM RAHMNAJAWBANI: We want to contest the elections because we want to defeat these violent people as to how much time we will leave them to rule Pakistan and kill the innocent people.
REEVES: Philip Reeves NPR News, Larkana.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.