Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fatima Bhutto Picture

Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of Benazir's brother Murtaza, is intelligent, opinionated and feisty. A political writer, Fatima has penned two books and writes a hard-hitting newspaper column. A close lieutenant to her more politically ambitious mother, Fatima is a politician in training.

But speaking to The Guardian, Fatima says she has no political ambitions and is unlikely to overshadow Bilawal, her now famous cousin, anytime soon.

Since the death of her father Murtaza in a police shootout under still disputed circumstances in 1996, Fatima and her Lebanese stepmother Ghinwa have held Benazir, who was prime minister at the time, 'morally responsible' for his death.

Speaking to The Guardian in October 2007, days before Benazir's return to Pakistan, the pair was somber at the prospect of her aunt's imminent return. "If she didn't sign the death warrant, then who had the power to cover it up? She did," alleges Fatima, speaking about her father's death.

Murtaza faced several serious allegations in Pakistan, but notwithstanding that his daughter admired him. "He was a wonderful father. We had so much fun," she said.

In 1996, when Murtaza, who used to travel with armed bodyguards, was killed in a gunfight with the police, who were trying to arrest him. His death rocked Pakistan and Benazir's government fell six weeks later.

"The comparisons are largely cosmetic. In terms of political ideology, what we read, how we think, we are very different. I don't think that I'm anything like her," says Fatima when compared to her aunt.

Benazir, however, clearly loved her niece, which is evident in her autobiography Daughter of the East, which has several warm references. Fatima, though, maintains that she tried to split the family apart. She belittled Ghinwa, Fatima's stepmother, as a 'Lebanese belly dancer', and soon after Murtaza's death, convinced Fatima's biological mother, Fauzia, to seek parental custody.

"It was just vulgar and crude. I was in biology class in ninth grade, when the principal came and said, 'There's a woman here who claims to be your mother'." Fatima recalled in horror.

"It sounds like a soap opera but unfortunately it was very real. It felt very orchestrated and designed to humiliate," she said.

"As someone who cares about this country, I'm upset by what's happening. The fact that she's my aunt is just a footnote. In this country, politics has become entertainment. It's become sleaze, quick and tawdry, because we don't want to talk about things that really matter," Fatima told the paper.

In the wake of Benazir's death, Fatima wrote a bittersweet farewell to her aunt for The News, Pakistan. 'My aunt and I had a complicated relationship. That is the sad truth. In death, perhaps there is a moment to call for calm, to say 'enough'. We cannot, and will not, take this madness any more,' she wrote.

"My first thought was that it was just too familiar. It felt like we had been through this too many times before," she said. "When I heard that she had been shot in the neck, I thought of my father. The bullet that killed him was also fired into his neck, though at point blank range. It seems like every 10 years, we bury a Bhutto killed violently and way before their time," she added.

Benazir's death, however, has not changed her mind about her father's death. "Her government never adequately explained its role. But now that she's gone, we'll remember her differently," she says.

"I don't believe in birthright politics," she says, adding, "I don't think, nor have I ever thought, that my name qualifies me for anything. I am political through my writing. I have no interest in parliamentary politics for now. I'm too young. There's a lot to learn"

Via : rediff

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