May 17, 2011

Fatima Bhutto at AWRF 2011

I'm always proud to be a librarian when I spot the stylish silhouette of my colleague Robin Whitworth gliding across the crowded floor of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, which she never misses so luckily I get to see her there a lot. She contributed this description of Fatima Bhutto's star appearance (for such it seemed to be among festival goers):
Treasa Dunworth, a university lecturer, very fluently conducted the session with Fatima Bhutto. It provided a personal insight into the basket-case country that is Pakistan. The slight and very attractive 28-year-old Bhutto certainly possesses the presence and authority that mark her as an heir to the Pakistani dynasty. However, when asked by an audience member if she has considered standing in politics she prevaricated, likening it to when people ask why she did not become a dentist: she does not want to.

It probably goes without saying that it might also be a death sentence for her, as it was for her father, grandfather, and aunt. She still lives, one would imagine somewhat precariously given her outspokenness, in the country now ruled by the man she deems responsible for the murder of her father. She works as a columnist, and is also active in encouraging women to enrol to vote. Given that one has to have an ID card to enrol, and this costs more than a week’s food, very few women vote in Pakistan.

Bhutto's recently published book Songs of blood and sword is both a personal and political history. There is much research on her grandfather, President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed before she was born, and who is her greatest role model. Her father, Murtaza, followed in the same socialist footsteps, after he returned from exile, and was shot by police in 1996 (assassinated, she says). Aunt Benazir is accused of being directly complicit in her brother’s murder, and of selling out to corruption and betraying all her father’s principles by rescinding a number of laws that had aimed at social equity. Fatima and Benazir remained estranged up until the latter’s assassination.

Fatima related an anecdote about how when they were growing up, Murtaza painted his room ‘Communist red’, whilst Benazir’s room was black and white stripes, like a jail cell.

Fatima described her childhood as ‘quite ordinary’, in that her father did everyday things like taking her to school each day. But she did admit that for a child's vocabulary to include words like ‘junta’ was unusual. She talked of how it felt to be a Pakistani in New York (where she was at University) after 9/11. Her opinion on the burqa is that it as an Arab, not a Muslim, garment, and she would never wear one.

-- Robin Whitworth

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:00


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