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'2 nuclear nations entangled in this love story'
History sits rather lightly on the slender shoulders of the petite and elegant 27 year old who has journeyed nearly 555 miles from across the border, with a bulky hardback to promote in India's book bazaars.
Fatima Bhutto: Daughter of the murdered Pakistani political leader Mir Murtaza Bhutto, niece of the slain former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, granddaughter of the former Pakistan leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged by General Zia ul Haq 31 years ago Monday.
Fatima made headlines in the Indian and Pakistani media as well as the international press in 2007, a few months before Benazir returned to Pakistan, when she accused her aunt of having had her father (Benazir's younger brother) killed.
Fatima was 14 when she virtually witnessed her father being killed in the street below her family home, 70 Clifton, in the posh, beach bordering neighbourhood of Karachi.
Nearly 14 years after his death, from an even more violence torn Pakistan, now ruled by her uncle Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir's husband, she followed up her accusations with a voluminous, intense book/memoir that focuses on her father, the Bhutto family feuds and the research (often conducted, out of fear, in the middle of parks and anonymous hotels) that backs her conviction that her father was murdered.
Fatima, who is part Afghan, born in Kabul and spent her childhood in Syria (where her exiled father lived for 16 years), had the book, which was written in her father's memory, launched in March, not without difficulties, in Clifton Gardens, Karachi, very close to the spot where he was killed, with, she says, 700 people in attendance.
She has now made a trip to India, obtaining a hard to get visa, to launch her book in three cities including Mumbai, where her grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto once lived on Worli Seaface, central Mumbai.
Ironically and sadly, Fatima's boundless courage to find justice for her father now through a book, when legal redress was denied is quite similar to the stout bravery her twice exiled aunt Benazir brandished in 2007 when she returned to a hostile Pakistan, averse to democracy, and was assassinated.
Like Benazir, and all the Bhuttos, Fatima's strange and fateful life path was punctuated and molded by tragedies witnessed first from the young age of three when her uncle Shahnawaz was murdered in Nice, France, and she lived through the abandonment of her mother.
Songs of Blood and Sword is not Fatima's first book. A journalist and poet, her maiden book was a volume of poems. Representing the Last of the Bhuttos, she writes angry columns, that intensify her vulnerability, on events in Pakistan for international publications like New Statesmen, The Daily Beast.
It is not surprising to realise that her destiny is entwined with this book, penned in her father's memory, and her writing. Hence, the urgency to see that Songs of Blood and Sword is widely read.
It is just an amazing opportunity to be here. So great to be able to bring the book and talk about it. This is my third time in Mumbai, my fifth trip to India.
My grandmother Nusrat (Bhutto) actually was based between Pune and Bombay. My grandfather's father had a post here, but did not live in Bombay but he came and went before Partition happened.
I haven't (had time to find out where they lived in Mumbai) because it's very hard to move around. On this trip I am just here for a day, whirlwind. I want to come when I am not doing anything and go to Pune and discover a bit more of Bombay.
Can you tell us a bit about your daily life in Karachi? Do you move around with security? What is everyday life like in Karachi for its citizens?
I think people are always highly disappointed with the view of what my day to day life looks like. They think it is going to be a James Bond movie or something.
It's frighteningly normal in that I write in the morning. I got a six year old (adopted) brother (Mir Ali) who is in school, so a lot of activity goes in taking him to school, picking him up, doing his homework. I also have friends, who I love to have over at home for dinner or we get together and watch a movie.
The danger/safety aspect is an issue now under this current government but for most of the time that I have lived in Pakistan it hasn't been. I have made a conscious choice to live normally and not to be prisoners in our own city.
What is a conscious choice to live normally?
That means if you sort want to go to the Sunday book bazaar, you go, you don't think 'Oh my goodness, do I need six, seven battalions of people with me?' You live as you want to live, which is freely.
Certainly there are always people who will say to you: 'Oh look, you musn't go and do this thing (or that) because it is dangerous.' Well, everything is dangerous nowadays. I just was researching a story on Afghan refugees in Karachi and for the piece I had to go to northern Karachi where a lot of the refugee camps are.
Most people tell you things like '(Gasp) you can't go and if you go imagine what will happen.' But you go. That makes these things normal.
Who looks after your personal safety, and how do you stay safe?
I look after my safety (laughs). We have people who have worked with my father and work with my mother they are political workers. So if I say I want to north Karachi to this piece they say 'Okay we want to come with you' and they come to protect me with themselves and they are like family. So we don't think of it in terms of guards and things like that. We have to be individually careful and mobility then gets restricted.
How should the world look at Pakistan? In the media it is portrayed as a country falling apart and a country in descent. But that is how people sometimes feel about India.
I think with all of these sub continental countries Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan or India everybody has to remember that we are all new countries. We are all countries that really were occupied for hundreds of years by a brutal colonial power and so you are talking about countries that are independently 60 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old and that gets left out. That gets left out. Certainly, nowadays all we (hear) about the sub continent is poverty, violence, edifices that are crumbling.About more:
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