What is this?

Fatima Bhutto is attending the Jaipur Literary Festival. Naturally, she has got a lot of attention, and not much for anything literary. So, she has been giving a detailed description of her father’s assassination. It is painful to read. I also understand she was inconsolable on TV after Benazir’s death despite being critical of her. Only natural, for family ties do not just snap like that even if you do not agree politically.

However, her one quote at the Fest has really put me off. And there is no scope for ‘context’ here. She was asked if she regretted being so harsh on her aunt’s past record. This is what she said:

“No, I have no regrets about what I said about my aunt. If she had continued to live, she would have given me only more material to write.” (The audience at the back is reported to have guffawed) “Come to think of it, of all the Bhuttos, she lived the longest. She lived until 55, my grandfather died at 50, my father died at 42, and my uncle Shahnawaz died at only 26. As a Bhutto, she had a pretty long run.”

I suppose the mourning period is well and truly over. God bless America.


  1. Fatima's comment really isn't that bad.
    What you've got to understand is that the reactions to Benazir's death were far from simple. People who would, only a day ago, have been glad to do her in were suddenly numb. Those people didn't like Benazir one jot more, and the tears weren't only for her. People were afraid, everything went fragile, insecure, uncertain.

    That did not, however, last long. All that sorrow turned into resentment, and for very valid reasons. Her name was suddenly on the tongue of every thug, every hooligan-politician, she was made out to be Saint Benazir Shaheed. I really don't know how to explain this, but somehow or the other, she was being used for all the wrong reasons and that inevitably affected the way those with still functional memories thought of her. You can't help but talk of her with a snort and a grimace.

  2. FV,

    Fatima was just being cynical and bitter. What she said was honest. She could have sugarcoated her words but she didn't. She has courage of convictions, and does not play to the audience.

    She is right about the Bhuttos. She knows the inside stories. She knows who killed her grandfather - her father - her uncle - and her aunt. She knows none of the Bhuttos will be left alive who raise their heads, including her.

    The Bhuttos (even their youngest) command a clear 30% chunk of electorate in Pakistan, despite whatever. That's the invincible legacy ZA Bhutto left. They will not be allowed to rock the boat. I fear for Bilawal too even though he's not a Bhutto. Beychara muft mein marra jaye gaa.

    BTW I have two comments on your Elegy thread :)

  3. Mask,

    Whatever Benazir was, and I know what she was, she was still a symbol of the Federation of Pakistan, which is why her worst opponents mourn her, including this humble interactor.

    That's why people have termed her a 'Shaheed', while a 'Shaheed', according to it's Islamic definition, is someone who dies fighting in the path of Allah. Benazir died fighting in the path of America.

    But nevertheless, she died a brave death. And I mourn her. I cannot believe she's actually gone. She was the face of Pakistan, even though a severely flawed and fake representation of that country.

  4. In some ways part of what she said is reminiscent of her paternal grandfather's comment on how Bhutto men do not live long. But even though she has her reasons to be harsh about her aunt's past record, the highlighted part about "material" is a bit off-putting. One thing to be critical. Another to capitalize, for her own gain, on what she thinks might have been more of BB's poor judgment. It does not make Fatima sound any better than her aunt.

    I do not consider Benazir to be a martyr or a saint, but that remark was tactless. Par Amreeka ka iss se kya t'aaluq?

  5. ana,

    Benazir used to call her step-mother, Ghinwa, who raised her from a toddler and who was her Ballet instructor, a 'Belly Dancer' in contempt.

    Perhaps if you go deeper, you will see why Fatima is saying this.

    But I saw her crying bitterly on TV at Benazir's death.

  6. Since this is relevant, I must put this down in the perspective of Fatima Bhutto's words. People can draw their own conclusions. All I'm saying is fact.

    On a fine evening in 1996, I as usual was going to the Clifton 5 park behind the British Consulate (commonly called the Aunty Park). To get there I had to take a U-Turn in front of the garden next to 70 Clifton (Murtaza Bhutto's residence) and then turn right in the street next to the Consulate.

    Before taking the U-turn, I noticed a police mobile on the side, a dozen or so policemen, and some people climbing up trees. I thought that to be extremely odd, but continued to my park, had my jog, and then went home.

    Then I turned on the TV and Murtaza Bhutto had been shot with a single bullet while inside his vehicle, alongwith his six crack security guards in the back ... each with a single bullet through the head.

    The SHO incharge of the thana and the prime witness was found strangled in police lines two days later with several policemen sleeping alongside him on charpoys in the open courtyard, who never heard a peep.

    Fatima Bhutto knows what she's talking about.

  7. WMW:

    I know that Fatima Bhutto knows exactly what she is talking about, and I know that Pinky said that about her mother Ghinwa. I do not know who you are, but I do not think you know either that I have been a very vocal critic of much of what Benazir Bhutto has said and done. Your perspective is relevant and appreciated, but as you well know, different folks will draw different conclusions to those remarks, regardless of putting it in perspective.

  8. ana,

    Yes, different folks will draw different conclusions to those remarks, but it's the truth that all her seniors were killed in mysterious circumstances, and she will not be left alive either if she comes into politics.

    Now anyone can draw their own conclusions from what I've said.

  9. Fatima Bhutto is just getting all confused over her own different stands for BB.....She doesn't know what she's talking about, if, she's doing for gaining some motives, then it's a long way to go for her before matching herself with BB..........

  10. Uh..huh..okay, so each one has a different perspective. I only felt the portions I have highlighted are off...and this girl should get her 'stand' a bit more clear.

    Baaqi sab apni marzi ke maalik hai...


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