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If a Bhutto must run Pakistan, why not Fatima? – Jemima Khan

This article appeared in the Telegraph today where Jemima Khan discusses Fatima Bhutto as the most logical heir to the Bhutto dynasty, I might also agree that the 25 year old has the brains and maybe the brawns to take over the reigns of such a big party, but will she? is still an open question. The most important issue to analyze that if she does stick her neck out for the top slot in the PPP will the Bhutto supporters rally behind her considering her ongoing difference with Benazir. I guess not… so honest advice would be for her to stay low and pick the fight at a later stage when the fruits are better for the picking, if she were to emerge now it could be political suicide as the strong Benazir sympathetic vote bank could rub her the wrong way.

In other news, discussions in many circles around town, I am also told that if one were to search for a male leader within the Bhutto empire then a good option would be to keep an eye on Murtaza Bhutto’s son Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Jr), many who have met this young chap say that he is very ‘street smart’ and could be a logical choice, though he is only 18 years old, but far more mature then the adopted-name-sake-Bhutto Bilawal Zardari.

Within the span of a few days since the assassination of Benazir, a strong rumor remains that a rift is already brewing up within the top ranks of the PPP since Zardari is not a natural leader and the more he interacts with the top brass the more differences continue to arise and the rift widens. It must be recalled that previously Asif Ali Zardari commanded respect and power under the umbrella protection of Benazir Bhutto quite simply because he was ‘the husband of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto‘ now with her gone it is a different story all together. I would not like to preempt the breakup but its important to keep an eye on whats brewing on under the covers

By Jemima Khan
Published in the Telegraph UK

Death duties are being reformed in this country and the upper limit extended. They don’t come more onerous than those left to Bilawal Bhutto, Zardari. Many Oxford undergraduates consider a career in politics; few are handed a political party, a new name and the statistical probability that you’re not going to die of old age, in bed.

Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son and heir will lead the PPP into the upcoming elections, which his party is likely to win, thanks to the martyr factor. Then he will return to Oxford to complete his studies leaving a regent, in the form of his infamous father, Asif Ali Zardari, in charge. Apparently – and this is widely disputed in Pakistan – this is in accordance with his mother’s letter of wishes.

Zardari, widely known as Mr Ten Per Cent, has spent more than a decade in jail in Pakistan on corruption charges. He is believed to have looted up to $1.5 billion from the Treasury, is appealing a conviction by a Swiss court for money-laundering and faces a separate inquiry in Britain. More sinisterly, he was also accused of complicity in the murder of Benazir’s brother, Murtaza Bhutto.

Pity Pakistan. If anything good could have come from Benazir’s assassination it was that the PPP would reform and re-establish itself as a modern and truly democratic party. As the PPP is one half of a two-party system, the party’s survival is vital for Pakistan’s democracy. Founded by Benazir’s father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, it is also the only national grassroots party in Pakistan’s history.

Some say the party is rotten to its core. That’s untrue. There still exists a minority of incorruptible and principled politicians, as well as the favoured, acquiescent types. Others claim there are no credible leaders to replace Benazir within the party. Also untrue. Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and PPP stalwart, emerged as a national hero and natural successor when he stood up to the military and protested against the dismissal of the chief justice. For this he was jailed, beaten and kept in solitary confinement. He remains under house arrest in Lahore. And as he has credibility, experience and popular support, it suits all the power seekers both inside and outside the PPP that he stays there.

The justification for the selection of Benazir’s son as chairman was that only a Bhutto could provide unity within the party. If so, then why not 25-year-old Fatima Bhutto, who is arguably more qualified for the job than her teenage Facebooking cousin? If everything’s in a name, Fatima need not have changed hers in order to inherit. Brought up in Pakistan, unlike Bilawal, and a native speaker, she is an established writer and political commentator. At least she has some work experience. Aunt Benazir’s first-ever job was prime minister of a 160-million-strong nation.

It helps, in a lookist society, that she’s also as beautiful as her aunt – a young Salma Hayek lookalike – and has similar tragic appeal: orphaned, like most Bhuttos, as a result of a political assassination. Fatima is also politicised and outspoken. Too much so. She repeatedly accused her aunt of being complicit in the murder of her father and savagely opposed Zardari. That ruled her out.

The real reason Fatima is my favourite Bhutto, though, is that she has the sense to realise that a few good articles and the right surname don’t qualify her for leadership. Unlike others in the family, she rejects the notion that political power is her birthright: “I don’t think my name qualifies me or makes me the best person.”

The result of Benazir’s bequest may be the disintegration of the PPP. Mumtaz Bhutto, clan elder and former chief minister of Sindh, has already publicly said: “This will split the party very badly. Zardari has no political acumen.”

The only consensus within the party was that Zardari was to blame for his wife’s transgressions. Once emotions subside, the true horror of the succession will sink in. Zardari’s rule, even as regent, is unsustainable.

When political parties claiming to represent democracy are run like monarchies, posthumously electing family members and quashing all dissent, what hope is there for democracy in the country?

It always strikes me as patronising when outsiders claim that Pakistan has no other credible leaders. The argument in favour of Benazir was always “Well, who else?”

The problem is that in a country where clans and names bear such significance, the circles of power are closed. It’s the system that fails to allow other leaders to emerge that is the problem, not the lack of viable alternatives. In rural Sindh and Punjab feudal landlords have always dominated politics and the educated middle class remains excluded.

A ruling family may well produce the odd leader who is adequate and groomed to rule. It is equally likely to spawn an ineffectual, out-of-touch and parasitic elite that sucks the lifeblood from the country, perpetuating the cycle of poverty, popular revolt and military coups that has bedevilled Pakistan’s history.

If the PPP wins the elections, as is expected, the question becomes: is this democracy, as our leaders in the West would have it, or rather a dynasty posing in democracy’s figleaf?


17 Comments

  • JinnahFan |

    Hi, I did not like the tone and substance of this article at all. It sounded like the typical pontification that flows out of uninformed Western reporters.

    This situation highlights perhaps the most crucial point in Pakistani political history. The argument being presented is that the PPP does not practice democracy within its ranks and hence that makes it a bad choice. Well, why do we not leave that up to the VOTERS of Pakistan? The crux of democracy is to let people make their own choices, regardless of how stupid they may seem to more “educated” people.

    So, I would say to Jemima, if people who vote for PPP realize that this is a bad move on their part, then they have the option of voting for SOMEONE ELSE! I have no idea why this does not even enter the mind of so many Westerners and “enlightened” Pakistanis.

    It is this same pontification and we-know-whats-better-for-you attitude that leads the same Westerners and “enlightened” Pakistanis to support military dictatorships by the likes of Zia and Busharraf.

    Will Pakistan, for once, be given a chance at democracy?

  • nota |

    A better article on the subject would be:

    Pakistan: The “other” Bhutto by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/blog/2007/12/pakistan_the_ot.html

    She really seems a much better choice but she has to get away from under the shadow of her Ghinwa who made the brilliant move of joining hands — of all parties — with PML-Q just a couple of days before BB’s assasination(http://www.dawn.com/2007/12/13/nat15.htm). Being anti-BB is one thing but making PML-Q your partner is crime is totally disgusting!

  • :-/ |

    In my opinion Fatima is not a good choice, she can write good poems and stuff so in future she can claim place of Sherry Rehman but quiet frankly she is not political material.

    Secondly, Fatima already has a party to take care of PPP Shaheed Bhutto, hello anyone remember that?? IF just IF there was no SB group I would have supported her and her brother for the seat of PPP chair-person but since they have their own party it seems unlikely that anything like that will ever happen unless they join SB Group with PPP.

    Anyways, in my opinion if all family disputes are taken care of then the co-chairmanship should go to Zulfiqar and Bilawal and in addition to Central Executive Community there should be advisors to them namely Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Aitzaz Ahsan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Zardari should be an additional member.

  • NAZIA |

    I saw the poor people crying on benzir.They are bare footed, and deprived people of Pakistan but their tears and love for Bhutto family is a a big truth. Bhutto famiy is most unlucky family in this earth planet that they always responded people’s sincere love with lies and deception.They are typical feudal characters of our system who opted the best luxurious life for them and their family and give people the least from the previlages they got from nature and Pakistan.That’s why God has selected same fate for all of them that all died as unnatural death and it should be a lesson for other feudal characters of Pakistan

  • Ghazala Khan |

    It would take some 7 to 8 years more for Bilawal Zardari to become somewhat able to learn the ABC of Pakistani politics. Its a long long time, and when he has a father like Zardari, who isnt a much celebrated figure in Pakistan, it looks more hard for Bilawal.

    Amin Fahim, Sherry Rehman and some others have already showing signs of apprehension. Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and some other elders of Bhutto family along with dissenting PPP leaders are putting forth the name of Ghinwa Bhutto for a unified PPP leader.

    Things are surely cooking underneath.

    Ghazala Khan
    http://www.pakspectator.com

  • Silence |

    First question is why Hassan Nisar, Miraj Muhammad Khan and other top guys left Tehrik i Insaf? The simple answer is Imran.

    Jemima needs to concentrate of PTI affairs not on PPP, although I like Imran as he is a sincere and honest guy but too much self centered and I also like fatimah Bhutto but in present situation if she is inducted in PPP, she would be a catalyst to break PPP and we will loose the last hope to keep our federation intact.

    For God’s sake, let the process work, Bhutto’s has always returned the love or bare foot people with their blood, can we mention anyother party with such character, one we are in process things will get refined and so many big names eleminated, might be Bhutto’s are one of them, but in absence of a political process it will only bring destruction.

    And secondly its internal matter of PPP, only PPP workers and leaders can comment or decide, no outsider has a right to judge their internal matters, if Jemima is not satisfied, she is no body, she can advise her former husband not other politicians.

  • Shama |

    Can you give any other example of leaders sacrificing their lives for people except Bhuttos?? No, thats why poor masses love Bhuttos. Any liar, cheater, plundrer cannot sacrifice his or her life for a just cause. I pitty on those who still lament Bhuttos. Do you have courage to sacrifice your life for this country? no, you can only call names to th real leaders sitting in your cosy rooms, you cruel people. Stop Bhutto bashig if you want to save this country.

  • Khwaja Afta Ali, IP Attorney |

    We the founder workers of PPP salute to your very right decision that Bhuttos may not need to lead the party but guide the party with their charisma and intellect for the betterment of the masses in Pakistan. They have their own life to enjoy and this is their right any how. In case of Fatima , she might be ready to marry and PPP particularly and Pakistan generally can not afford any other mr. percentage. But Bhuttos will remain a simble of freedom and hope for the poor oppressed people and a light for lower middle class educated youth in Pakistan for years to come. Please, Fatima keep up with your good work and do not forget the poor masses. And when ever you have time, do your best for the masses. All the best for your private life. KHWAJA AFTAB ALI, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.

  • KHWAJA AFTAB SHAH of Bhakkar |

    We the founder workers of PPP salute to your very right decision that Bhuttos may not need to lead the party but guide the party with their charisma and intellect for the betterment of the masses in Pakistan. They have their own life to enjoy and this is their right any how. In case of Fatima , she might be ready to marry and PPP particularly and Pakistan generally can not afford any other mr. percentage. But Bhuttos will remain a simble of freedom and hope for the poor oppressed people and a light for lower middle class educated youth in Pakistan for years to come. Please, Fatima keep up with your good work and do not forget the poor masses. And when ever you have time, do your best for the masses. All the best for your private life. KHWAJA AFTAB SHAH of Bhakkar, Punjab. email.piplaw@hotmail.com

  • Ilyas khan Baloch |

    Sir/Madam,
    Dare to raise your voice for the inevitable socio-political change in Pakistan, to empower the Pakistani , the country belongs too.

    Since the creation of Pakistan the Pakistani people are left at distant from the corridor of power so that the ruling elite can do what they wanted to do in favour of their interest, leaving the Pakistani people at the mercy of circumstances. As this policy is denial of right of Pakistani people to rule their country according to their aspiration and desire to built this country, which can provide equal opportunity to all without any discrimination for the establishment of welfare society. Only the society base on tolerance, equality and justice can be the real guarantee for the prosperous and strong Pakistan there for your intention is invited to the crucial movement which could be the point of distraction or disaster.

    We have already lost the major part of Pakistan in 1971 simply to save the centralised sole power to exploit this country by the ruling elite they let the country break in part then allowing the masses to rule this country democratically. In the present circumstances we are again dragging our sovereignty at stack for the external interest in the name of national interest, instead of our interest i.e. the interest of Pakistani people at large.

    The only way out of these crucial circumstances is the only way to empower the common Pakistani at grass route level i.e. the change of system. This change is inevitable for the prosperous Pakistan .As a citizen of this country I have try to provide an alternate socio-political system to empower the masses at grass route level for rapid industrial and agriculture development with transparency and accountability in the system. Along with basic guarantees for the creation of welfare state, where in public representative and institution shall be answerable and accountable to the masses.

    Kindly see web site.www.idp.org.pk

    Kindly acknowledge with your comments.

    Ilyas khan Baloch
    Organizer Islamic Democratic Party

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi |

    I think you sound more complex, if someone is born-rich would you like him/her to give away with the life they have live on the streets, I am a poor resident with middle-class status, but I love Pakistan Peoples Party though I’m not its stalwart, yet I have always liked it, what can someone do if the unbeatable military again and again interferes with the government, you happen to see the tears jerking from people’s eyes on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but you failed to understand why despite the reality that Miss Bhutto lived around a decade in self-exile, was cried for after returning back to Pakistan and being assassinated in just two months. Will you go out if someone tells you that you’re not safe out-there, I think you would shut yourself behind the seven doors, and would impose the same on your family members, but look at the bravery of Miss Bhutto, she left behind her most priceless luxury i.e her two daughters and one son, I think this is more than the wealth someone accumulates. She made a will prior to flying to Pakistan, it meant she knew the facts that she might catch up in the net of agencies, why did she risk her life, for money to ignore the plight of poor people. She came just for the sake of people of Pakistan, her father gave life for people of Pakista, it takes guts to stand hangman standing past-by at you, this could only have been done by Bhutto, so come out of complexity and realized the facts.

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi |

    I don’t know why she has come up with comments regarding the justice for Fatima Bhutto. I must tell her since she is divorced she must stay out of issues inside Pakistan, I must look freak while saying so, but she adopted religion and the culture, but she failed to take-over the traditions of Pakistan, that if a woman is divorced in Pakistan, she has no links with the family of her husband.

    Fatima has spoken a lot about PPP, once calling it wrongly as I have never heard anyone, saying that it is being called Pervez’s Peoples Party by people, although Pervez’s Muslim League (Q) could be called so. Therefore I don’t think she has any place in PPP, not in a dream.

  • MALIK AMAN |

    Just want to say that Fatima rules as she is the true bhutto by just changing ur name to buhhoto doesn’t makes u a bhotto u have to have the blood.

    MAn if she ever stands up in poll i will vote for her instead of bilawar

  • MALIK AMAN |

    ONe more reason to i vote for fatima she is the excat copy of benazir and she speaks like her too cool na

  • laila ahmed |

    Please stop raising these silly elitist issues. Fatima is a nobody. The people have spoken. Let the PPP and PML (N) have the full opportunity to form the government and serve. The parliament is soveriegn, higher than judiciary or any other institution. We must respect the verdict of the people.

  • Nighat Khan |

    Jemima should bloody mind her own business. i am tired of half baked western writers pretending to be an expert on Pakistani affiars. I am sorry people of Pakistan are intelligent, smart, compassionate to understand theri country’s affairs. we dont want any British society socialite who uses her social contacts to get her essays printed on british press.
    Leave us alone and go back to your partying in london