Monday, January 28, 2008

Fatima Bhutto at the Jaipur Literary festival

Had the killing of Benazir Bhutto not taken place – Fatima Bhutto at the 3rd Jaipur Literary Festival would perhaps have been only a sidelight of the event. This is one decent enough reason why she dodged all apprehensive questions on Pakistan, and on its upcoming General Elections, as defensively as possible.
Granddaughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto, Fatima is a poet, a writer and the columnist of The News. Her session this afternoon with author City of Djinns, William Dalrymple, On Pakistan, drew enough to fill the ample hall of Diggi palace, where the festival was being held.
"I will only consider politics if there are no dynasties involved," said Fatima when asked if she would consider joining politics. "When you're a politician your hands are more tied, and besides I don't believe in birth right politics … nothing really good comes out of it."
Fatima spoke briefly about her aunt. Fatima has had an estranged relationship with Benazir and had not spoken to her since she returned to Pakistan to contest for elections. "I knew her at a different point in my life. She was always struggling and fighting against dictatorship," she said. "She was not sad, but she always looked ahead. The violence behind her death should have not been allowed."
During the session, she also spoke about her father, Murtaza, and how she was worried that something wrong might happen to him, that she got him to sign a publisher's letter, for her book of poems, Whispers of the Desert, a day before he was killed.
"I was only 14, and my brother, Zulfiqar was 6, and we were at home that day. My father was on his way to Karachi, when we heard bullets close to our house," she said." Fatima later mentioned that violence never fazed her, or for that matter, doesn't to people from this subcontinent. "Zulfi kept saying that it's fireworks. But in actual my father and his men were being killed... my father was shot 6 times at a point blank range. When we tried to get in touch with my aunt (Benazir was prime minister at that time) there was no help."
She went on to speak about the time she was studying in Columbia when September 11 happened, and said that people came up to her and said they were sorry that she's a Pakistani.
Fatima, only 25, is particular that her writing, often controversial in Pakistan, gives her freedom to express. She says she is proud to be a Pakistani, but the Bhutto to her last name, sometimes works against her.

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