Zardari heads to Dubai to placate Bilawal

LAHORE: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardariembarked on a two-day visit to Dubai on Saturday amid reports that the trip was aimed at persuading his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to return to the country and lead the Pakistan People's Party's election campaign.  

The 24-year-old Bilawal had left for Dubai over a week ago after a tiff with his father over the affairs of the PPP.  

A source in the PPP told that Zardari had gone to Dubai on a "private visit" and the main purpose of his trip was to placate Bilawal.  

"The PPP cannot afford to go into the May 11 polls without Bilawal. Many in the PPP believe that the son of the lateBenazir Bhutto alone can mobilize voters in favour of the party," the source said.  

However, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told that Zardari's visit had nothing to do with reports of differences with Bilawal.  

"President Zardari has gone to the United Arab Emirates on a private visit. And I don't know whether Bilawal is in London or somewhere else," Babar said.  

He contended that reports about a rift between Zardari and Bilawal were "baseless".  

Bilawal, recently named patron-in-chief of the PPP, developed differences with Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur, over the party's handling of key issues, including militant violence, sectarian attacks against Shias and the award of party tickets for the polls.  

The PPP had earlier announced that Bilawal would lead the party's election campaign. 

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