You are here: Rediff Home » India » News » Photos
Search: The Web
  Email this Page  |   Write to us


Her father's daughter

December 28, 2007
In life she titled herself Daughter of the East.

She was also known as the Daughter of Pakistan and the Daughter of Democracy.

In death she has been called the Daughter of Destiny.

Like any dutiful daughter there were many important men in her life.

A father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she adored and idolised. She was the young Phoenix who arose from the ashes of his execution at the hands of a military dictator to take forward his vision. 'I told him on my oath in his death cell (before he was hanged), I would carry on his work,' she told the BBC.

There were two younger, fire-eating brothers, Mir Murtaza and Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who, by all accounts, were very dear to her. And were also lost to her many years ago. After their father's death they both became revolutionaries and began Al-Zulfikar, a cell of the Pakistan People's Party, with the aim to violently wrest power. Both died, young, in mysterious circumstances -- Shah Nawaz was poisoned in Cannes and Murtaza was shot dead in Karachi by the police when his sister was prime minister.

As important was husband Asif Ali Zardari, a tribal chieftain from Sindh, who she met in a match arranged by her part Kurdish-Iranian mother Nusrat Bhutto. Benazir married him in a virtually public, chaotic ceremony billed as the People's Wedding in Karachi in 1987; 100,000 supporters danced in the streets. He too went out of her life for many years in between when he was sent to jail on corruption and murder charges.

Son Bilawal, 19, who along with her daughters Asifa, 13, and Bakhtwar, 16, were the apples of her eye. Despite a busy schedule, unstoppable ambitions to be the liberal woman prime minister to lead Pakistan to peace and hectic travel that put a distance between her and her family, Benazir found time to cook meals for them, arrange picnics and talk to them every day on the campaign trail.

And then there were the anti-heroes in her life that played as crucial a role. The generals she wanted to checkmate in revenge for her father's death. General Zia-ul Haq who took away her beloved father and cast a shadow over her youth. Till Zia died in a plane crash in August 1988, he minded her every move, watching her, realising that this young woman, who had inherited her father's political mantle, was the only challenger he truly had.

After Zia -- barring a few generals in between who worked for her government -- the next general to come along was Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, who in his autobiography In the Line of Fire, says Benazir wanted to appoint him as her military secretary when he was just a brigadier. The tables turned when General Musharraf became the only one standing in the way of Benazir's dream to regain power in Pakistan.

Benazir was an eloquent, vocal woman who expressed her views fearlessly -- never believing she had anything to lose in doing so -- in numerous long interviews given to and publications ranging from glossy magazines like Hello to the BBC and The New York Times.

Her views on her father, brothers and other key figures in her life were well-documented in the press and in her autobiographies Daughter of the East and Benazir Bhutto: From Prison to Prime Minister (coauthored with Libby Hughes) where she frankly discussed the men in her life and her emotions for them.

Text: Vaihayasi P Daniel. Photograph: Benazir Bhutto along with a portrait of her late father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on October 7, 1993 after winning the general election a second time. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Benazir Bhutto on her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

'We had applied to the authorities to visit my father's grave...

We were covered in sweat and dust when we finally arrived at the entrance to our family graveyard...

How peaceful it seemed. And how familiar. Generations of Bhuttos whose lives were sweeter lay there: my grandfather, Sir Shah Nawaz Khan Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Junagadh State, knighted by the British for his services to the Bombay presidency before the Partition of India; his wife, Lady Khurshid; my uncle, Sikander Bhutto, and his legendary brother, Imdad Ali, so handsome, it is said, that when he drove his carriage down Elphinstone Street, Karachi's main shopping area, the English ladies ran out of their shops to stare at him. Many other relatives also lay there, in the soil which had given us birth and to which we return when we die.

My father had brought me here just before I had left Pakistan to go to Harvard University in 1969. 'You are going far away to America,' he had told me as we stood among the graves of our forebears. 'You will see many things that amaze you and travel to places you've never heard of. But remember, whatever happens to you, you will ultimately return here. Your place is here. Your roots are here. The dust and mud and heat of Larkana are in your bones. And it is here that you will be buried.'

Kind Courtesy: Daughter of the East

Also read: Daughter of Pakistan

© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.Disclaimer | Feedback