As predicated by this scribe in a post on Jan 1st the only way ruling elite can ensure a weakened PPP is to slowly chip away and exploit the jealousies and rivalries of the Bhutto clan, this could be the start of such propaganda, I personally see three potential breakaway’s from this post-Benazir era, Mumtaz Bhutto, Fatima Bhutto & Aitzaz Ahsan.
Amongst these three options Aitzaz Ahsan seems to me the one that can inflict the most amount of damage to Asif Ali Zardari’s run into parliament [though Aitzaz has withdrawn his election papers, but that issue can be sorted out], and I would not be surprised if we suddenly see Aitzaz suddenly sprung from his imprisonment. Many might ask if this is one more conspiracy theory into the muddle? Sadly yes, but one to definitely keep an eye on for…
Mumtaz Bhutto sat back on the cool marble veranda of his sprawling country mansion in rural Sindh province. A guard brandishing a Kalashnikov stood behind him. A servant fanned the chocolate cake on the table to keep the flies at bay. He was dismayed. The rise of Asif Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s husband, to the leadership of the Pakistan People’s party, was nothing less than a disaster, said Mumtaz, the sprightly 74-year-old head of the Bhutto clan.
“Zardari is an illiterate man. He has no political background or experience. He will not be able to conduct himself as the same level as Benazir,” he said with barely concealed disdain. “Most unfortunate.”
Family feuds are never pretty but for the Bhuttos, Pakistan’s dominant political dynasty, they are played out with the same intensity that characterises the rest of the family’s Greek tragedy-style history.
Mumtaz Bhutto fell out with Benazir more than 15 years ago. Mumtaz retreated to start his own political party from his elegant home amid the salt-encrusted fields. But it won little support, so he concentrated on his duties as an old-style feudal lord. Critics call him a relic of another age.
Peasants surround his magnificent house with its fleet of four-wheel-drive vehicles and ornate private mosque. Two sleek hunting dogs, recently imported from Britain, roam the garden where servants trim the grass with a donkey-drawn mower. A domineering Raj-era portrait in the hall shows his grandfather brandishing a curved sword and a Purdey gun.
By Mumtaz’s estimates, his land is worth Ã‚Â£12m and he makes approximately Ã‚Â£23 per acre from his landholdings, which he estimates at about 15,000 acres ( Ã‚Â£350,000 peryear).
Summers are spent in London, where he rents flats in Mayfair or Knightsbridge, or on Italy’s Amalfi coast. “Absolutely heaven,” he said. “But this year we went to Portofino – the Hotel Splendido.”
Now he is angry that control of the PPP – considered synonymous with the Bhutto family – has passed to her son Bilawal, and he has dared to take to the Bhutto name.
“He is a Zardari, you can’t just change it like that,” he said. The mantle should have passed to a Bhutto, he said, because “it came into existence and survived on the name and sweat and blood of the Bhutto family.”
Asif Zardari, he said, “made no sacrifices for the party”.
“He has become a billionaire with bank balances and studs and ranches all over the world. That should have been enough for him.” Instead, he said, the title should have passed to the “real” Bhuttos.
In life Benazir was a great rival to her sister-in-law, Ghinwa Bhutto, the widow of Benazir’s brother, Murtaza, who was gunned down on a Karachi street in 1996 while she was prime minister.
Ghinwa comes from northern Lebanon and met her husband during his exile in Syria, where she worked as a ballet teacher. Benazir disparaged her as the “Lebanese bellydancer”. Ghinwa blamed Benazir for the death of her husband.
“I place the moral responsibility on Benazir. If she did not kill him, certainly his death was very convenient for her party of cronies,” Ghinwa told the Guardian last October.
Benazir denied the accusation, saying the shooting had been engineered by the country’s intelligence agencies to undermine her rule and divided her clan. “Kill a Bhutto to get a Bhutto,” she would tell friends.
But the conflict passed to the next generation through Fatima, Murtaza’s 25-year-old daughter and newspaper columnist. Clever and impassioned, Fatima was considered a possible heir to the Bhutto political dynasty. But she has not entered politics and her mother’s party, a splinter from Bhutto’s PPP – lacks even one seat in the provincial assembly.
Until recently, they were campaigning for a seat in Larkana, the heartland of Bhutto power.
Fatima had tried to avoid living in the shadow of her more famous aunt.
“The fact that she’s my aunt is just a footnote,” she said in October. “Benazir always gives these interviews saying that we are brainwashed and mummy’s a bellydancer. But I don’t engage in that. We don’t respond to her petty diatribes and attacks.”
After Benazir returned to Pakistan, surviving a suicide bombing, Fatima issued scathing criticism of her aunt, whom she referred to as “Mrs Zardari”. Benazir had recklessly exposed hundreds of people for the sake of her “personal theatre”, she charged. “She insisted on this grand show, she bears a responsibility for these deaths and these injuries.”
But this week, all that changed. Traumatised by her aunt’s killing, Fatima dropped the fiery rhetoric for wistful memories. “Honestly, I am at a loss,” she wrote in a heartfelt column in The News, a Pakistani daily, this week. “I am compounded in a state of shock.”
Bhutto’s death reminded her of her own ghosts, she said. “I have yet to bury a family member who has died a natural death,” she said, recalling her father, who was shot, her uncle Shahnawaz who was poisoned, and her aunt Benazir, assassinated.
“This isn’t about me, it’s about those whom we have lost,” she wrote.
“It’s about the graveyard … that is just too full”.