Its Bhutto vs Bhutto in cyberspace

Last Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 16:11

Islamabad: The fourth generation of Bhuttos, who are not on speaking terms, are doing the next best thing - taking on each other in the virtual world.

While Fatima Bhutto is predictably demonising her uncle Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, the other is being the doting daughter by defending her "incredible dad", the President.

It`s no longer a smooth run for author-activist Fatima, 27, who has in the past three years left no stone unturned to badmouth Zardari.

The Bhutto-Zardari kids are now giving it back to her measure for measure.

Though Bilawal, the co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party, has exited Twitter world, his two sisters are keeping the fire burning.

Fatima unleashed a fresh attack on Zardari`s much-publicised "leisure" trip to Europe by tweeting and retweeting Zardari trivia and subtly touching on an incident in which a man hurled shoes at the President in Birmingham.

"Meanwhile, 4.5 million Pakistanis affected by floods, 1,600 dead, scores displaced. Government - on vacation, paid by the treasury," Fatima said in a tweet.

In another tweet, she wrote, "Asked by BBC if it`s worth giving any money to flood relief when PK is so corrupt. Country is not corrupt, the government is. Huge distinction."

Zardari`s eldest daughter Bakhtawar, a student at Edinburgh and who is currently on a holiday in Pakistan, was quick to retort with "despite all the hue and cry about the President`s visit - we have managed to get more than USD 150 million in aid for the flood victims".

She also took at dig at cousin Fatima. "General FYI my fundraising campaign started over a week ago (Aug 3rd). We are more concerned with delivering rather than advertising."

Barely after Zardari had landed in Britain last week, Fatima had tweeted: "First 24 hours in UK and President and 5 federal ministers held no official meetings. Partying much at tax payers` expense?"

In a piece for Foreign Policy magazine, she wrote: "Why is Pakistan`s President junketing while his people drown?" Bakhtawar`s younger sister Aseefa backed her up by tweeting that her whole family is concerned and praying for the flood victims.

Aseefa also retweeted a much-read article on Fatima advising her to take to "fiction writing".

"Pakistan may have lost a talented fiction writer when Fatima Bhutto went into journalism. Clearly, she is adept at spinning a tale, fudging facts and re-defining reality in a manner that is the exclusive domain of talented story tellers," reads the retweet.

Aseefa also defended her brother Bilawal who had apparently planned to launch his political career from UK.

"Bilawal was never launching his political career in the UK. We will be attending a fundraiser in Burmingham for flood victims. God be with them," she tweeted.

Bakhtawar, who took the plunge into "practical politics" recently, has been helping with flood relief. "Yes - the 6000 bags already sent were for Punjab and Frontier. Inshallah Sindh should receive tomorrow."

In another tweet, she said: "They have these packaged utility bags, one costs Rs 2000, contains 15 food items, estimated to last one family 12 days."

She urged people to contribute more. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Zardari said he had used his trips to France and Britain to mobilise foreign assistance, money and food for the flood victims.

"Some have criticised my decision, saying it represented aloofness, but I felt that I had to choose substance over symbolism," he said.

"As I return to Pakistan, I bring back tangible results that will help the flood victims in the short run and lay the foundations for national recovery in the long run," Zardari said.

"I might have benefited personally from the political symbolism of being in the country at the time of a natural disaster. But hungry people can`t eat symbols. The situation demanded action, and I acted to mobilise the world."


First Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 16:11

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