Author's Note: The 1st part of this series can be read: HERE.
The 2nd part can be read: HERE.
The 3rd part can be read: HERE.
Fatima's profile is being presented to the world... by her PR folks and handlers as, "her striking looks recall her famous aunt, slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. The resemblance is striking: the long nose, the headstrong personality, the burning rage about a father's violent death." But Fatima Bhutto, the author of the 'must read' book/memoir "Songs of Blood and Sword", says the resemblance ends there: "The comparisons are largely cosmetic." To my mind... she resembles the Hollywood actress Salma Hayek and to some extent the Bollywood actress Amrita Rao, what?
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was unseated in a coup (July 5, 1977) by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and later executed (April 4, 1979)... charged with the murder of a political opponent (which to many Pakistanis was a frame-up). Unsure how to defend their father and his legacy, his children had reacted in different ways. Benazir believed the struggle should be peaceful and political. Her brothers (Mir Murtaza and Shahnawaz) initially tried the same approach, forming al-Nusrat, the Save Bhutto committee; but after two futile years they decided in 1979 to turn to armed struggle. Their other sibling... sister Sanam remained apolitical. Murtaza was 23 and had just left Harvard where he was taught by, among others, Samuel Huntington (who is quoted in this book... saying he remembers little of Murtaza at college). Murtaza flew from the US first to London, then on to Beirut, where he and his younger brother Shahnawaz were adopted by the Palestinian leader and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - Yasser Arafat. Under his guidance they received the arms and training necessary to form the Pakistan Liberation Army, later renamed Al-Zulfiqar (or 'The Sword' in urdu)... an underground guerilla outfit.
Based first in Kabul, where Fatima was born 28 years ago, and later Syria, al-Zulfikar (The Sword) operated with the support of Colonel Gaddafi's regime in Libya and Moscow. It was accused of orchestrating a series of shootings, bombings, and the 1981 hijacking of a Pakistan International Airlines plane. It was "a terrorist group which often scaled the pinnacles of absurdity," once wrote the British Pakistani historian and commentator Bariq Ali, who is otherwise quoted approvingly by Fatima in her book.
Fatima treats Murtaza's excursion into guerrilla-land (in Soviet-held Afghanistan) as something more significant than what her aunt Benazir did - to organise a democratic front against the Zia dictatorship while in jail in Pakistan. Murtaza's whole style of politics was to operate outside the political mainstream. He had run away in exile... while Benazir had chosen to face the music in Pakistan. She had chosen to remain in the front line. She could not afford to carry a brother with the taint of Al-Zulfikar on him and she could not afford to say, 'Well, I'm letting him off the hook'. In life, Benazir was never comfortable talking about Murtaza's murder. Instead, she blamed the powerful intelligence services for engineering the killing to overthrow her govt. and split her family. If she was right, the strategy worked spectacularly well. A month before Benazir's return to Pakistan... Fatima sent around a link to the YouTube clip of a television interview. "Her reaction is amazing," wrote Benazir's estranged niece in an acerbic tone.
In her own memoir, "Daughter of the East" - Benazir refers adoringly to Murtaza as her "baby brother". She saw his murder as a "conspiracy" hatched by the family's legions of enemies, the purpose of which was to "kill a Bhutto to catch a Bhutto". In his 1996 obituary of Murtaza, Bariq Ali suggested that Pakistan's intelligence agencies might have been involved. "It is hardly a secret that there are forces in Pakistan that would like nothing better than to wipe out the entire Bhutto clan," he wrote, in words that Benazir's supporters will regard prescient.
Having fled into exile... Fatima's Harvard-educated father Murtaza, born in 1954, embarked on a life that fills his daughter with compassion, but may evoke mixed sentiments among others. He began an affair with Della Roufogalis, a glamorous Greek allegedly engaged in a civil-liberties campaign to persuade the Athens dictatorship to free her husband, a right-wing general, from imprisonment. Then in 1979, Murtaza pitched camp in Kabul and set about fomenting armed resistance to the Zia regime. He dumped Della to marry an Afghan, Fowzia, who was already pregnant with Fatima. Just before his daughter Fatima was born, Murtaza and his brother had found shelter in Kabul as guests of the pro-Soviet government. There the boys had married a pair of Afghan sisters, Fauzia and Rehana Fasihudin, the beautiful daughters of a senior Afghan official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Fatima's mother was Fowzia.
In spite of Zulfiqar's supposed extolment of the Nehru-Gandhi family, Murtaza was disappointed when Mrs. G treated him like an "ordinary" visitor. Although this could and should have been his first lesson in politics, he failed to learn from that practical episode that friendship and family ties have nothing to do with politics. This episode is a testimony to his immaturity and shortsightedness - which also accounts for his inability to view himself critically. This precipitated his failure in politics. Fatima's much touted book does not mention any of this of course! Else it would have been difficult... nay impossible for her to build up his image as 'Pakistan's Che Guevara' and not the shadowy figure of lore. And as the real legatee of the 'Bhutto legacy' who was cheated of his rightful claim, as a male heir. Right?! (Benazir kept out of this theatre of the absurd run by her brothers).
I will deal with the activities of Al-Zulfiqar (AZO) in a later post in detail. It will make for a very fascinating read... I promise you! Now to get back to where I left off in Part III...
The self-styled 'Head of the Bhutto tribe' - Nawab Mumtaz Ali Bhutto - Zulfiqar's cousin and Benazir's uncle... was installed as the Chief in the eighties... after the then Sardar/Chief Wahid Bux Bhutto was murdered by the Zia regime. Wahid was close to Benazir and was her cousin. After his installation, Mumtaz made life difficult for his niece... using extremely derogatory language against her, besides killing, torturing and jailing countless of her supporters and party members in the Sindh province. Whenever Benazir's government was dismissed, and a caretaker/interim regime put in place or new elections were to be held... Mumtaz was made the caretaker Chief Minister of Sindh... and he facilitated the rigging of the polls... against the PPP. He was also instrumental in framing Zardari for Murtaza's murder.
Mumtaz was a founder member when ZAB launched his PPP... but backstabbed him (and his family) after ZAB was overthrown in a coup d'état by Gen. Zia. When Benazir built up her PPP from scratch... she did not hesitate to show him the door... once Mumtaz began extolling Sindhi nationalism and a separate nation for the Sindhi people. He now heads the SNF - Sindh National Front, which is barely a marginal party... and he has not been able to win his ancestral seat even. That has gone to Benazir's party. But this has not stopped him from passing comments and remarks... which a section of the media (including the foreign media) prominently highlights. Recently, he and some other bit players had a hush-hush meeting to explore support for Musharraf... who is keen on launching his own political party.
When Benazir returned to Pakistan on Oct 18., 2007 after 8 years in self-exile... her convoy was attacked via powerful bomb blasts/suicide bombing that left several dead and many more injured. The next day, along with news of this attack that killed over 150 of her supporters, newspapers published a picture of Fatima's step-mother in a meeting with Arbab Ghulam Rahim... the then Chief Minister of Sindh. He was a Musharraf appointee and a zealot who had publicly criticised female heads of state as being a curse upon the land they rule... apart from using extremely derogatory language against Benazir. After this meeting... Fatima, Ghinwa and Mumtaz blamed Benazir and held her responsible for all the deaths and mayhem... in what Fatima described as "Benazir's theatre".
After the first suicide attack following Benazir's return to Pakistan in October 2007, Ghinwa remarked: "I think she has invited trouble herself. She has always thrived on this victimisation complex. She always loves to be the victim and whatever happens to anybody, at the end she is a victim." She further added: "I hoped that she wouldn't die, of course. I think it will be a bigger punishment for her to live. I feel terrible about all those people, and angry for exposing them like that." It is to be noted that Ghinwa barely lets out a peep regarding the countless other deaths and killings... happening all over Pakistan as a result of suicide blasts, etc.
Other 'usual suspects' like Immy Khan, Jemmy Goldylocks, Hamid Gulbadan and other media and political personalities 'indignantly' pointed a finger at Benazir herself. Certain Punjabi politicians including those from Musharraf's party (PML - Q/Q-league) led by the Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat (Shujaat Hussein and Parvaiz Elahi) went a step further and insinuated that Benazir herself had masterminded the blast... to gain sympathy. Incidentally, while Benazir was barred from the 2002 elections... for not having a degree (inspite of both Harvard and Oxford attesting her claims to the contrary)... Ghinwa was speedily given a BA degree (First Division) by the Punjab University in Aug., 2007. Parvaiz Elahi was the Chief Minister of Punjab then. Benazir had mentioned the names of some people who wanted to eliminate her... Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Parvaiz Elahi and Hamid Gulbadan (former spymaster, Afghan jehad veteran and Immy Khan's political mentor) reportedly figured in that list. Fatima went ahead and wrote a piece titled "Aunt Benazir's false promises" that found its way into the major newspapers in the UK and America, besides other countries in the west.
Why do you think this book and its author are given such huge publicity... when she is a mere nobody? Why is she being presented as the 'true heir', 'true Bhutto', the 'New Daughter of the East', as 'Benazir's fiery and fearless niece who bears a striking resemblance to her aunt', as someone who is reluctant to get into politics... simply because she is opposed to 'dynastic politics'? Why is there no mention of the dismal record of her and her step-mother's party - the PPP (SB)? Why is there no mention of what a washout the other party (SNF) run by the self-styled 'Chief of the Bhutto clan' is? Why is she given so much exposure by the western media and press as well as thinktanks? Why is she being introduced to policy-making circles in the US and other capitals of the world (including via dinner parties at Jemmy Goldylocks')??
What do you think about the timing of the book? What are your thoughts regarding the political and strategic gameplan that gets played out through something as innocuous as books?
Why did the Indian media too fall in line... and ask her soft questions... designed mainly to reinforce the contents of her book? They never mentioned anything regarding her father's terrorist activities or hijacking planes...? What do you think about this new term "Af-Pak"? And how do you think the effort to build up a certain B. Mehsud and link him to Al-Q was done? Whether one agrees with her or not... Benazir is an important figure in history and one of the foremost characters in Islam. She has paid the price for challenging certain Islamic tenets - held especially under the brand of Islam that was born in the US universities and thinktanks midwifed by the SeeIA and the 5-sided polygon in the eighties. For challenging patriarchy, for having married a man dubbed as "low born" or from the so-called "lower caste" in a deeply feudal, casteist, clanish and Islamic society. For having made him the leader of the largest party (PPP)... by virtue of which today he is the first citizen there. And much more...
Incidentally, Benazir had lead the PPP/PPPP for nearly 3 decades, despite every effort made by the army/intelligence agencies and hidden forces to break, splinter and factionalize it. This is also Pakistan's only national party with grassroots support... and she was the only national leader there. Her closest rival Nawaz Sharif's party... the Nawaz/N league or PML-N... is essentially Punjab based... with barely any representation/support in the other states.
Why is all this and more being forcibly ignored and 'dynasty' being harped on... when there is no 'dynasty'? Benazir herself is the architect of the 'Bhutto legacy' and the 'Bhutto brand'. Her party is a matrilineal line. What do you think are the implications of her actions vis-a-vis Islam and not just Pakistani society or South Asia? Why is all that being pushed under the carpet? Why is there a concerted and well choreographed attempt to paper over her story by dubbing it as a part of the dynastic culture peculiar to South Asia... 'where women have come to power holding on to the coat-tails of male relatives'? Why is she being lumped with the two feuding Begums of Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan mother-daughter duo of Sirimavo Bandaranaike - Chandrika Kumaratunga as well as the Gandhi clan? The two Begums of Bangladesh (Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina Wajed) would have never become PMs had Benazir not opened that door for them... the first woman to do so in centuries or rather over one millennium. They do not quite have a stature of their own either. Plus any similarity between Benazir and/or her family with the Gandhi clan is extremely superficial.
Not too long ago there was an attempt to 'prove' that her son Bilawal was 'corrupt'... since he had supposedly bought land at below the market price... in 1994. If one were to do some simple calculations, one would realize that in 1994 Bilawal was all of 51/2 years old!
If you look at the events in Pakistan in '95-96... two things/events stand out. One was the initiation or rather the signing of the IPI agreement... i.e., the Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline (dubbed the 'peace pipeline'). This was initiated by Benazir who was the PM then. The other being the arrival of the 'Taliban'. These were students of various Afghan madrassas ('Taliban' means 'students' and 'madrassa' means 'Islamic religious schools'). They were the children of the 'mujahideen' who fought against the Soviet regime/Communists on behalf of the US/SeeIA/5-sided polygon and their cronies between 1978-1989. These 'mujahideen' or 'holy warriors' were trained, equipped and armed by the SeeIA and the 5-sided polygon to defeat the rival ideology - Communism. The brand of Islam they followed and later tried (and are still trying) to impose on others - took birth in the US universities and thinktanks under the supervision of the SeeIA and the 5-sided polygon. They enlisted the help of the Saudi royal family for this purpose. The Saudis were initially reluctant... but after a series of unnatural deaths, including that of King Faisal and another royal who apparently 'died of thirst' at the age of 29, they relented and agreed to toe the line.
In a country which had not known peace for over a decade and a half, where there were no scope for employment/education or even the presence of a semblance of infrastructure or institution... one cannot expect people to go back to agriculture. And except for poppy cultivation there were hardly any farming activities left. [Read my post: All in a Day's Work].
She or rather her interior minister (Maj. Gen. Naseerullah Babar) groomed these children of the mujahideen... in order to counter the weak Afghan govt. and to oversee law and order. But most importantly to assist in Pakistan's plans of opening up the old trade route to Central Asia and provide security to this route, etc. She even tried to convince the then Iranian president and top Islamic cleric Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani... to unite their (Pak-Iran) policies on Afghanistan. Rafsanjani, scoffed at Benazir's offer (conveyed to him in 1995).
These steps angered a certain cow+boy teil giant (Georgie AmBush's 'voice of God' and former US V.P. Dickie Chainey; the diplomat, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Henny Kissmonger among others have close ties to it). Even the AmBush family is into the teil business... and Condor Rice too is linked closely with the teil lobby. They got her govt. dismissed through the then Pak. President Farooq Leghari (known to be a favourite of the teil giant) - on charges of 'massive corruption', lawlessness and extra judicial killings (where the entire focus lay on Murtaza's killing). The Taliban thereafter took on a different role. Stabilizing Afghanistan was/is not on the agenda of the US and its allies. In fact Benazir... days before her death had reportedly indicated that the US wants to do to Pakistan what it have done to Iraq. And that... it should be resisted. No wonder she met her maker... shortly afterwards. It is a small wonder then that the journalist and author Billy D among others has labelled her as the "mother of the T-ban"!!!
Today India has all but pulled out of the IPI pipeline project... which would have supplied gas from Iran at a subsidised/reasonable rate to cater to India's growing energy needs. Instead we have accepted the Indo-US Nuclear deal... the much touted "1-2-3 agreement"... whereby the solution to India's energy requirements will depend largely on the US. The cow-boys have managed to queer our centuries-old ties with Iran as well. Even Pakistan under the Zardari-Gilani duo are not sure about going ahead with the IPI... even though the 'land of the pure' is suffering from severe energy crisis. They are not even looking at the offers made by their 'all-weather friend' - China... to help mitigate this crisis. All due to the open and veiled advise (dubbed as 'counseling') from you-know-who. The footsteps of our new colonial masters are getting louder and louder...
Have you ever thought of the great cull... that of strong and popular leaders especially in this part of the world... ??? Leaders who led and managed political parties with widespread support. It cannot be mere fate or even coincidence... or accident and/or work attributed to sundry 'terrorists'.
The only person who hasn't had a chance to comment on the book's claims is Benazir. A few months before she was killed she was asked about Fatima's criticisms. "She is a sweet girl. She's very nice and everybody says she's just like me," she told a journalist. "I hope that one day [her] eyes will open." According to Benazir's sister Sanam: My sister always said that our family should not blame Fatima for the outrageous accusations she makes against us. Benazir said: "Don't blame the child, blame those who poison her." Hmm. Perhaps having had first hand experience in the snake-pit of Pakistani and international politics... she may have seen through the smoke and mirrors. Incidentally, in her lifetime, Benazir is reported to have explicitly forbidden her supporters from responding to Fatima's vitriolic attacks on her or on them.
We also noticed that the much fawned-over author was in tears and looked completely broken, shattered and devastated at her funeral. She was the only one who appeared like that from 'that part' of the family. Not her step-mother or her step-brother or the self-styled 'Chief of the Bhutto clan'. If any of us were to accuse someone of all the wrong-doings and crimes that she has accused her aunt of... and even if a fraction of it were to be true... and if that person were to die, we would not cry like that. For sure!
Wonder what great game is being played on the political and international chessboard.
To quote Kahlil Gibran: "Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"
Let me customize it to suit this post: "Who are the Puppeteers, pray, and who the Puppet?"
I was quite mystified over the reactions of a certain section towards her 'will'. Once it was made public (after her murder)... there was a huge hue and cry and even 'indignation'... that came from the 'usual suspects'. Immy Khan declared in all the foreign channels that this was nothing short of "monarchy" and that it was the end of the PPP. Therefore... if the People's Party wanted to survive it should merge with his party - PTI (a marginal force called the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) - and he would provide the leadership. Immy had once been Mushy's favourite for the PM post. The western media/press plus Jemmy pitched in for Fatima. The experts, analysts and people linked to thinktanks (in the UK and US) pitched in for a shining barrister with marathon driving skills - the 'moving force' behind the epic 'lawyers' movement'. Incidentally, Benazir had rapped this gentleman in public and stated that the intelligent agencies were endeavouring to split her party.
While Mustafa Khar, Mumtaz, Fatima, Ghinwa and others cried foul... claiming that the 'will' was fake and that they had been cheated out of their 'legitimate right'. Experts, analysts and people linked to western thinktanks too joined in while Mumtaz stirred the pot by suggesting that Fatima's step-brother, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr, was the "real heir" of Benazir's party... since he descended from the male lineage of ZAB (Murtaza and Benazir's father) and was hence a "real Bhutto". Else it will split the party... and accused that the Zardaris had "hijacked" it. His utterances were provided wide coverage in the western press/media. Also, long-time political secretary (of Benazir) Naheed Khan's clout was diminishing.
Several others... including the foreign media, experts, analysts and thinktanks lobbied for the Makhdoom of Hala... Amin Fahim, Benazir's deputy in the PPP and the President of the PPPP. Also considered to be a blue-eyed boy... of the teil lobby. Their reactions when he did not get to step into her shoes and/or become the PM... courtesy the 'will' was very absurd indeed. During Benazir's absence from Pakistan, the Makhdoom had developed quite cordial relations with the dictator of the time... and the 'establishment' started dreaming of a PPP free of the name of the Bhuttos. Or rather... a PPP 'minus one'. Had the 'will' not been there and had Zardari not stepped in, the establishment's plan seemed to have been the hijacking of the party by using the polite and unassuming Makhdoom as a rubber stamp. Sometime in the future one would have found Pervez Bonaparte heading the party and all its sponsored factions!
Indeed was all the hue and cry over Benazir's 'will' raised (and still being raised) 'coz it was a masterstroke and proved to be the 'joker in the pack'?? Was all the high pitch noise and the slew of churlish pieces appearing in the media... due to the fact that the 'will' managed to throw a spanner in the works and upset a lot of carefully laid-out plans... ???
1. The cover page of Benazir's posthumous book "Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West".
2. Fatima Bhutto, niece of slain former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Pic courtesy: link.