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Benazir Bhutto Has Sights Set on Power--and an Old Foe

July 20, 1988|MARK FINEMAN | Times Staff Writer

Analysts here believe that the Reagan Administration has been opening new lines of communication with Bhutto in recent months, and Bhutto has been courting the Americans in an effort to make clear that she is neither anti-American nor a socialist, as Zia has suggested. In an interview this week, she said that despite the opposition's dissatisfaction with U.S. support for Zia, "We are not in the least anti-U.S., and we believe the United States has a tremendous role to play in the development of Pakistan."

She said that she and her Pakistan People's Party were "tremendously encouraged" by Secretary of State George P. Shultz's recent statement that Zia must permit free elections soon or risk damaging his relations with Washington.

"This is a big switch-over, as far as we're concerned," she said. "Zia has been the American man for so long, and here we see some very encouraging new signs."

Bhutto's political savvy has its roots in her upbringing and education. She holds degrees from both Harvard and Oxford universities.

A friend of the family, Naheed Khan, said: "Benazir's father indicated several times . . . that he was grooming Benazir as his successor. Once . . . Mr. Bhutto said of Benazir: 'She is not my daughter. She is my son.' This is probably the biggest difference between Benazir Bhutto and Corazon Aquino. Aquino was not a politician; she was thrown into power by accident. Benazir Bhutto has been a politician all her life."

Aquino's eight years in the United States were spent in Roman Catholic schools. In contrast, Bhutto spent four years earning a degree in comparative government at Harvard between 1969 and 1973, when the student movement was at its peak. She said this helped form her own views politically.

"Those years at Harvard were the happiest of my life," Bhutto said, "because I was completely anonymous. My father was not yet prime minister, so no one there knew me as anything but another student. I do relish my privacy, and I never thought of politics as something to enjoy. I went into it out of a sense of responsibility and duty. I had always wanted something safer and more private."

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