Zardari involved in my father’s death: Fatima Bhutto
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 08, 2010, 09:40
Zardari involved in my father’s death: Fatima BhuttoBiplob Ghosal and Kamna Arora

“The streetlights were switched off, and the roads leading to 70, Clifton were blocked by the police. They (police) were scattered all over the area- on trees and buildings and on the roads. As soon as my father was identified, a signal was given to shoot. He was shot at several times. The autopsy clearly showed that he had been shot at point blank range from behind.”

Giving a chilling, graphic account of her father Mir Murtaza Bhutto’s killing on September 20, 1996, Fatima Bhutto emphasised that the orders to assassinate him could not have come but from the highest level in Pakistan.

Fatima Bhutto is the granddaughter of Pakistan’s former President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, niece of politician Shahnawaz Bhutto, and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Fatima was 14 years old when her father was killed with six other political activists in the shootout near his Karachi residence. On December 03, 2009, a Karachi court acquitted 20 policemen charged with the killing.

None of the seven men killed that night was taken to hospital, she alleges. "They were all taken to different locations. My father was taken to a dispensary where the doctors had outpatient facility. It was a place which had a sign outside its front door saying -No Emergency. It was very clear that it was not a hospital where doctors could save anybody`s life," she said.

Benazir was the Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time of Murtaza’s killing. After her government was dismissed in 1996, Asif Ali Zardari (now Pakistan President) was detained for allegedly being involved in the ghastly act. Fatima and her stepmother Ghinwa Bhutto have often hinted that they believe Benazir or her widower Zardari were responsible for Murtaza’s death. Zardari was acquitted due to lack of evidence as the scene of Murtaza`s assassination was wiped clean before investigators could arrive.

Busting the myth about the Bhutto family, Fatima clearly said Benazir was not a Gandhi.

In her tell-all tone, the outspoken niece of Benazir Bhutto took us down the memory lane during the launch of her new book `Songs of Blood and Sword`. Wearing a green sari with a red `bindi`, Fatima set the tone for the evening chatting freely with renowned author William Dalrymple on various issues.
UN probe into Benazir’s death

Later, talking exclusively to, Fatima questioned the efficiency of the United Nations team probing the assassination of her ‘Wadi bua’, Benazir Bhutto.

"I think the issue with the UN report is this - on what basis are they investigating? There was no autopsy done on Benazir`s body, the UN team did not exhume her body, the scene of crime was washed up," said Fatima.

"So how are they investigating the death without any of these factors being examined," she added.

Zardari’s leadership

On being asked how she would rate Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s leadership, she said, “I think Pakistan is seeing a President who, before he was the President, was fighting corruption cases in Switzerland, Spain, France, the UK, Pakistan as well as four murder cases. That has a very clear answer; what kind of leadership are citizens going to get?”
Benazir not a Gandhi

Asked if she thought her aunt was a better ruler than military dictators in Pakistan, Fatima said, "Unfortunately, I don`t think we can say that. When you have 3,000 men killed in one city under an operation called `Operation Clean Up` which sounds as genocidal as it really was, why is that better than General Musharraf, who allowed American forces to make people disappear? It is not."

She further added that efforts were being made to build a myth about the Bhutto family that "Benazir was a Gandhi, while her brothers were monsters." Fatima found meaningless theories about Shahnawaz and Murtaza killings being motivated by the intention to hurt Benazir. If someone wanted to get Benazir, they would have got her, she asserted.

Benazir was opposed to her brother`s return to Pakistan, as per Fatima. "She (Benazir) was preparing, one would assume, to be General Zia`s Prime Minister who was still alive at that time."

Giving details of the bitter ties between Benazir and her brother Murtaza, Fatima said, “Yes, she (Benazir) refused him (Murtaza) a seat" during the 1993 elections. Murtaza wanted to contest from Larkana.

‘Cruel’ Zardari

"On 20 September, 2008, on the 12th anniversary of Papa`s death, Asif Zardari took his oath as the President of Pakistan. The ceremony had been scheduled for the day before, the 19th, but was moved on the orders of the new President who rescheduled his big day for Saturday, Papa`s barsi," Fatima said.

She found it "cruel" that Zardari, after assuming office, wanted to keep a minute`s silence in the memory of his slain brother-in-law.

"And this is also the man who said to me on the phone when I was 14-years-old and trying to find out where my father was, `Oh, don`t you know? Your father has been shot`...For someone who has never actually condoled my family on the murder of my father, it seems slightly absurd that, as President, he was using his platform to observe a minute of silence for him (Murtaza)," the 27-year-old said.

"Later on, within a year, the courts in Pakistan absolved all the police of any wrong-doings and said to us that basically nobody killed those seven men that night. Nobody provided sniper cover for the police, nobody turned off the streets lights and seven men just died."

"On Zardari`s first day as Pakistan`s President, he awarded one of his co-accused (Shoaib Suddle) in the case the `Hilal-e-Imtiaz`. He gave him a national medal for services to the Pakistani people. And one wondered if killing Murtaza is included in this service," Fatima said. Suddle was then made the head of the Federal Investigation Bureau of Pakistan.
‘Violent’ family tree

During a biology class, when she was asked to draw a family tree and indicate which diseases particular family member suffered, high-school student Fatima was almost baffled. Because it was not any disease that killed her close family members, but political violence.

The Bhutto family has had to lose one member every decade due to political violence. In 1979, Fatima`s grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed. Her uncle Shahnawaz was found dead in Nice, France on July 18, 1985 under mysterious circumstances. In 1996, her father, Murtaza Bhutto, was killed and her aunt, Benazir, was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

First Published: Thursday, April 08, 2010, 09:40

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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