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).

Things I wish I could do

Helen Thomas confronts U.S. Secretary of State Robert Gibbs on the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla in the video below

How can you not love this woman?

News for Thursday

More than just a low calorie alternative for your coffee. French Prime Minister Nicholar Sarkozy is under fire for his role in providing 50 million Euros worth of "sweetners"  to senior Pakistani officials (legal until 2000) and and extra 33 million euros to two Lebanese intermediaries which had nothing to do with the contract  and instead were rewired to France to help finance Prime Minster Eduoard Balladour's campaign in 1995 (illegal).

Good news! BP has capped the ruptured oil well and is funnelling 1000 barrels of oil per day to the suface.

Yukio Hatoyama's replacement has been named. Naoto Kan, a former environmental campaigner has just been named Japan's fifth prime minister in four years. Political agenda: national stability, form a East Asian trading bloc, regional stability in the face of the korean crisis.

Keeping up the momentum. After the failed attempt of the Freedom Flotilla to defy Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, Irish and British  Freedom flotilla ship MV Rachel Corrie is headed towards the Gaza strip. Currently 80km from the interception zone of the first flotilla, 150km from Gaza.

So you want to be a professional apologist? Stephen Walt lays out the 21 talking points crucial to defending the indefensible.