ISLAMABAD - Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's entry into Pakistan's political arena continues south Asia's tradition of dynastic politics, but analysts say he faces tough challenges to turn his famous name into palpable success.

His mother Benazir Bhutto and grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto were both prime ministers, and in his first major public speech on Thursday Bilawal painted himself as the true heir to the dynasty that has dominated Pakistani democracy for more than 40 years. "Bhutto is an emotion, a love," he told 200,000 supporters at the majestic family mausoleum in the southern province of Sindh as he marked the fifth anniversary of Benazir's assassination and launched his own political career.

"Every challenge is soaked in blood, but you will be the loser," he said in a message to what he called anti-democratic forces. "However many Bhuttos you kill, more Bhuttos will emerge from every house." Zulfikar was hanged in 1979 over the murder of a political opponent. Benazir was killed in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally in 2007.

For the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), founded by Zulfikar and now at the head of the ruling coalition, the dead Bhuttos are martyrs. Its rhetoric makes much of their struggle to bring democracy in the face of an entrenched and oppressive "establishment". A general election is expected in the spring and after almost five years of PPP-led government, ordinary Pakistanis face a host of miseries on a daily basis: gas shortages, incessant power cuts, inflation, pervasive corruption and the ever-present threat of terror attacks.

The Oxford-educated Bilawal is free from the taint of corruption that dogged both his mother and his father, President Asif Ali Zardari. Analysts say the PPP will aim to capitalise on his freshness and energy - as well as the Bhutto name - as they seek to persuade voters to give the party another chance. At 24, he will be too young to stand if the poll goes ahead on time, but he has been tipped to spearhead the PPP's campaign. Neutrality rules bar the head of state, Zardari, from playing a role.

Raza Rumi of the Jinnah Institute think-tank said the young Bhutto could prove useful in more than just name. "I think the PPP will have to keep him at the central stage - partly it needs a charismatic leader at the front, but also remember that in Pakistan the majority of the population is young," Rumi told AFP.

Given the rise over the past two years of cricket legend Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, with its energetic youth wing, a move by the PPP to appeal to younger voters looks like an astute tactic.

Several local newspapers noted similarities in looks between Bilawal and his mother, though the passion and emotion of his speech seemed to cast further back to the fiery demagoguery for which his grandfather was famed. Political analyst and author Hasan Askari said Bilawal would play the Bhutto card for all it was worth, but warned it would take more than clever speeches to win the public over.

"The speech was emotionally charged, this style works in the crowd," Askari said. "He repeated the 'roti, kapra aur makan' slogan which his grandfather gave in 1970. He invoked the legacy, but gave no idea or vision."

Support for political parties in Pakistan stems from a complex mix of kinship networks, patronage and ethnic allegiances. Analyst Talat Masood questioned how much of a draw Bilawal's name would be beyond the PPP's heartland in Sindh. "I will not bank too much on his leadership," he told AFP. "The Bhutto card will continue to play in Sindh but it seems to have no relevance in Punjab and other provinces."

Democratic dynasties are a feature of Asian politics: the Nehru-Gandhi clan has given India three prime ministers since 1947 and family ties have had a key role in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and most recently South Korea.

Rumi said the phenomenon was partly a reflection of local culture but also of the nature of fledgling democracies. "Political systems are evolving, democracy as an idea is new, modern political parties are new - it is less than a century old and in between there have been so many military rulers," he said. Bilawal's other great challenge is to avoid the bloody fate that befell his mother and his grandfather. "The freedom to mobilise and campaign in peaceful democratic politics is the challenge," said Rumi.