Bhutto's Son Spent Childhood Out of Public Eye Journalist Victoria Schofield, who has known Bilawal Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's son, since he was born, sheds some light on the new leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party. He is an intelligent young man at 19, she says.
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Bhutto's Son Spent Childhood Out of Public Eye

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Bhutto's Son Spent Childhood Out of Public Eye

Bhutto's Son Spent Childhood Out of Public Eye

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ALEX COHEN, host:

To find out more about Benazir Bhutto's successor, we turn now to Victoria Schofield. She was a classmate of Benazir Bhutto's at Oxford University.

Welcome to the program.

Ms. VICTORIA SCHOFIELD (Journalist): Thank you.

COHEN: Ms. Schofield, you've known Bilawal Bhutto Zardari since he was born. What can you tell us about him?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Well, he's a very personable young man. He's just started his university, as you know, at Oxford, where he's really began to enjoy himself. He's reading history, which for him is the subject he's passionately interested in, as well as politics. And he's just a very nice young man now.

COHEN: Is he politically involved at all at Oxford?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Well, his major involvement is his membership at the Oxford Union, of which his mother was president. And in fact she went with him on his first day to make sure that he joined up for the Oxford Union. So he attends the debates like any normal student.

COHEN: Can you tell us all about his hobbies, his non-political interests?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Well, he used to enjoy playing chess with my children. However, they had quite interesting games. I think he always beat my children. But I'm not sure if he still plays chess. He's not a very athletic boy in that he doesn't play a lot of sports. I think that's partly due to his upbringing in Dubai. It's not so much part of the culture there. But he enjoys, like any young teenager, watching films, you know, being with friends.

COHEN: As you mentioned, he was raised in Dubai and in Britain. How ready do you think he is to take on a role politically in Pakistan?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Obviously he's going to be as ready as he needs to be, in a way. He hasn't spent that much time in Pakistan due to the circumstances of his mother's exile. But I really do feel he's an intelligent boy and he'll rise to the challenge.

COHEN: Do you have any sense of how much Bilawal Bhutto really wants to take on this role? It's a big job for a 19-year-old.

Ms. SCHOFIELD: It's a big job. I think he would do whatever he felt his mother wanted him to do. And the fact that his mother has clearly wanted him to do this has meant that he will rise to the challenge.

COHEN: Can you tell us all about his relationship with is father?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: His relationship with his father at the moment is in what I would call a formative stage, because one has to recognize that they've not spent very much time together and that Bilawal himself has said he - his family life was not normal because the critical years, almost I think from the age 10, 11, up to the age of 17, 18 were spent growing up without his father. He barely saw his father. It was only latterly that when he was a little bit bigger, his mother arranged for him to go on his own and see his father in Pakistan.

COHEN: Can you think back over the 19 years that you've known this young man, can you think of any one moment that for you really summarizes what he's like as a person?

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Well, this child, I think, probably the joy of being with his mother when she wasn't having to work and the outings that they had together. She said to me once that children always remember not staying at home with their parents but being taken out. And I think that's the memory that he will have. It's always, when he went out, you know, even if it was just to go and get ice cream with his mother or something like that.

COHEN: Victoria Schofield, thank you so much for joining us.

Ms. SCHOFIELD: Thank you very much.

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