Dear Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,
Please accept our heartfelt condolences on the tragic murder of your mother. At a time such as this, it's not easy to make good decisions. But as much as we sympathize with you and your family, we think that you have been pushed into a bad one by agreeing to head your mother's party. With all due respect, at 19, you are not qualified to lead the party or Pakistan. If you act honorably now, however, you may one day earn the right to do so.
As a student at Oxford University, we hope that you have learned of the failures of monarchies and dynastic traditions, and of the successes, however flawed, of democratic self-government. Your family has played a vital role in Pakistani politics, and your mother gave her life campaigning for democracy. If you allow yourself to be anointed, instead of elected, you will become an accessory to the perversion of those democratic aspirations. (Yes, we recognize that we write to you from a country headed by the son of a former president and considering whether to elect the wife of another former president. We suffer from dynastic impulses too, but they are best resisted.) We urge you to resign.
If you truly wish to struggle for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, you need to make your own way. Identify worthy candidates with the values, skills and experience you believe are needed to run Pakistan, and work for their election. Or start your own NGO. Or go to graduate school and decide for yourself which policies will help your country. Or run for parliament. In 2008, legitimacy cannot be inherited. It must be won with ballots.
Please learn to be the democratic and wise leader your country yearns for. Pakistan will need you -- just not now, not in this role. We wish you luck.
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