Friday, June 4, 2010

My beef with Fatima Bhutto


Before I elaborate any further on this post's title, I'm going to be upfront with my readers about my personal views on Fatima Bhutto (daughter of late Murtaza Bhutto; niece of late Benazir Bhutto (BB)). While I have not had the opportunity of meeting her (I'm sure she is a perfectly nice person), my engagement with her body of work has been disappointing, to put it nicely. On a good day, her writings are oversimplied, overworked pieces of fiction. On a bad day, they point towards a megalomaniac using her last name to publish rubbish op-ed pieces in foreign news publications, all the while forgetting that no one reads the Daily Beast or the New Statesman in Larkana.

The reason I'm saying this is because it angers me that people like Fatima Bhutto seem entitled to represent Pakistan and Pakistanis to the world, when the only people they should be representing is themselves. In her most recent piece published in the London Evening Standard, she notes that at the launch of her book "Songs of Blood and Sword" in Karachi she "didn't expect the Pakistani establishment's decision to go nuclear" or that "sulking family members, a lugubrious lot who benefited richly from the power and corruption of (her) aunt's two terms in office and now her husband's" would come out of the "woodwork".  She is of course, disparaging Sanam Bhutto (BB's younger sister) for writing a letter to the editor clearly disputing her version of events leading to the formation of her father's militant outfit "Al-Zulfikar". Then there is the obligatory condemnation of the dynastic traditions of the current government, which conveniently ignores the fact that her step-mother currently holds the leadership position of the Shaheed Bhutto branch of the PPP in lieu of her son who is not old enough yet, a move which eerily resembles dynastic succession.

That is not to say that the entire op-ed is an exercise in narcissism and hubris. In fact, several sentences highlight important issues affecting Pakistan such as  polio, corruption in the state apparatus, women's rights and the recent ban on Facebook and Youtube. However, these examples are eventual foils (ok, not THAT eventual) through which Fatima advocates US and British financial and political disenagement from the country, ignoring the obvious fact that foreign involvement or the lack thereof has never impacted these issues in the first place. If Ms.Bhutto wants to correct the injustice against ethnic and religious minorities, women and the LGBT community in Pakistan, it would be best if she actually used her fame and influence as a vehicle to bring about this change (Diana style) rather than highlighting personal vendettas against members of her own family. Or better yet, donate all proceeds from her self serving historically inaccurate family history to individuals and organizations actually working to improve the human condition.

P.S. Worthy organizations include but are not limited to the Edhi Foundation (largest and most respected does everything from running Pakistan's only national ambulance service (made up of volunteers) to overseeing adoption of abandoned children to burying the dead after violent clashes), Ansar Burney Trust (Humam rights organization fighting against human trafficking, forced labour and abuse of prisoners), Human Rights Comission of Pakistan and The Citizen's Foundation (builds and manages over 500 schools in low income communities) and  Concern for Children  (involved with primary health care, education and awareness).

13 comments:

  1. Nice blog and wonderful to read you as i have added it to google reader.

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  2. @Yaseen ch

    Thanks for your comments

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  3. would u like to see my blog and become a follower too- in case u like it?? am ur follower since weeks now :-)))

    http://relationships-catgirl.blogspot.com/

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  4. good read! to b frank, I was wondering the same over the last couple of days & my impresson abt her is changing. Just like her articles (tat u mentioned), her tweets at her twitter profile, to me, seems contentious and speaks of self-obsession. Also,contrary to her perspective of not taking advantage of her bhutto dynasty,she,s surely relying on it. I doubt, if she enters full-time politics, (which I guss she surely will) she ll b any different from the feudals we already have. Infact, her aunt BB (no matter how much we criticize her,corrupt she was)at a young age,proved to b a politician of the mark, had grounding in local politics & supurb understanding of international issues. Though, in terms of looks, fBhutto beats her!

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  5. Thank God, finally a critical account of the 'butter-wouldnt-melt' Fatima Bhutto!! She's made a few appearances here in London and as if by hypnosis, everyone seems to have forgotten the devastating legacy her family left in Pakistan and all seem to think she can remedy their wrongs! Seen one Bhutto and you've seen 'em all, thats what I say.... well done Roti Fan

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  6. @CATGIRL

    I had the opportunity to visit your blog and enjoyed it quite a lot. However, the general topic around which your posts are centered isn't exactly my cup of tea, so I hope you don't mind if I decide not to follow you. That being said, I will drop by from time to time, so keep up the good work.

    @Fatima Saleem

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with your every point, but don't understand the country's obsession with her looks. If good looks made great politicians, then the entire National Assembly would be full of beauty queens. This is certainly not the case; just look at AAZ, Rana Sanaullah and Nawaz Sharif.

    @CitiBitch

    Thanks for your comments.

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  7. This was a good read. I wrote about her visit to New Delhi a while ago. However, I couldn't comment on her book since I haven't and don't even plan to read it. And even if I had read it, I wouldn't have been able to tell how much of it was the actual truth since I know very little of the Bhutto or even Pakistna's history. So it was good to read your take on it.

    You can read what I wrote about her --

    http://abdusalaam.blogspot.com/2010/04/fatima-bhutto-in-new-delhi.html

    And here,

    http://abdusalaam.blogspot.com/2010/05/william-dalrymple-gives-us-lowdown-on.html

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  8. It is to no avail that you attempt to dismiss so easily "corruption in the state apparatus," as if it were of no particular consequence when, if fact, it is the heart of the problems in Pakistan and the very heart which Ms. Bhutto is at pains constantly to address, directly and indirectly. Moreover, to assert that it is an obvious fact that foreign involvement or the lack thereof has never impacted these issues in the first place is mind-bogglingly disingenuous, when you consider all the money flowing into the country from the USA in order to influence and control the various administrations and officials.

    Moreover, the snide and self-aggrandizing complaints regarding Ms. Bhutto's motives, both political and personal, aside from the logical fallacy (argumentum ad hominem), do nothing to
    recommend your own charming and extremely intelligent self.

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