Islamabad: Fatima Bhutto may be successfully positioning herself as the next leader from her illustrious family, but some in Pakistan are objecting to her portrayal of her late aunt Benazir Bhutto as someone evil in her one-sided version of the Bhutto dynasty.
Fatima`s much-talked about book on the Bhuttos, ‘Songs of Blood and Sword’, was recently released amid much fanfare.
She got a rousing welcome in India for her book launch and in a bid to tap the huge market, she played to the gallery by wearing a sari and a bindi.
However, leading Pakistani commentator and columnist Nadeem F Paracha has pooh-poohed Fatima’s memoirs and pointed out some "glaring half-truths".
"As expected, the book is a passionate argument against whatever her controversial father (Murtaza Bhutto) had been accused of, and, of course, this being Fatima Bhutto, she makes sure to every now and then ridicule her aunt, Benazir Bhutto, who, as a character in the book, is always lurking somewhere behind, manipulating, sulking and having a split personality?," Paracha wrote in a piece titled ‘Dad who would be king’.
Murtaza Bhutto was shot dead by police outside his home in Karachi in September 1996 and Fatima has for long pointed a finger of blame at her aunt Benazir and her husband Asif Ali Zardari, the current President of Pakistan, for his killing.
At the time of his death, Murtaza was estranged from Benazir.
"The book is a touching document of a sensitive daughter remembering her father. But at the same time it is frequently punctuated with some glaring half-truths. Due to space constrains here, I will just comment on the book’s chapter that deals with the hijacking of a PIA plane in 1981 by Al-Zulfikar (AZO) - the guerrilla organisation Murtaza formed to avenge his father (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto)’s judicial murder by the Zia dictatorship," Paracha wrote.
According to Paracha, Fatima treats Murtaza’s excursion into guerrilla-land (in Soviet-held Afghanistan) as something more significant than what her aunt Benazir did -- to organise a democratic front against the Zia dictatorship while in jail in Pakistan.
"Fatima’s attempt at setting the record straight regarding her father is understandable, but her deriding the woman who led her party into power not through the bullet but by the ballot is not," Paracha wrote.
Paracha pointed out that Fatima has taken at face-value what one of Murtaza`s slippery friends (Suhail Sethi) had to say about the hijacking.
"Sethi (and Fatima) claim that Murtaza tried to dissuade (Salamullah) Tipu (the notorious Peoples Student Federation militant who joined AZO and led the hijacking) from shooting a Pakistani official on the hijacked plane.”
“But according to Anwar and one of Tipu’s cousins I talked to, it was Murtaza who gave the orders for the murder.’
“Anwar then goes on to assert (in his book) that Tipu became Murtaza’s trusted right-hand man after the hijacking,” Paracha wrote.
"Benazir condemned the hijacking in an interview she gave to the BBC in 1985. Murtaza Bhutto never claimed innocence, either for the hijacking or for the murder, in any newspaper published during 1981 to 86," Paracha concluded.
Twitterati too have been taken aback by Fatima’s naiveté.
"Went to Fatima Bhutto`s book release. She reduces Pakistan politics to a family melodrama. Well spoken but naive. Is she a femme Imran Khan?" tweeted Indian columnist Swapan Dasgupta.
"Fatima Bhutto also said political change though murder is part of the `entire region`s legacy`. A gratuitous generalisation," he posted, adding that Fatima shouldn’t imagine she is a profound commentator.
"At 27, Benazir was miles ahead," Dasgupta wrote.
Another Indian commentator predicted that the "book will finish her".
"Stories will fly doubts will be created will be vilified. End of story. End of Bhuttos," he wrote.