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In My Place

An interview with Fatima Bhutto

By no stretch was I a lawyer. But I just knew that’s not how you deal with police brutality. You didn’t take them aside and ask them who they voted for in the last election.

Pakistan’s dynasty-bashing heir apparent discusses how Obama and corruption legitimize the Taliban, her work to include women in Pakistani politics, and why she will never run for office (it’s not why you think).

The story of Pakistani politics for the last four decades can be told through one family: the Bhuttos. Two Bhuttos have been heads of state, but four have been slain in the violence that riddles modern Pakistan.

Fatima, the twenty-seven year old poet, stands in the wake of this carnage and is its heir. Her grandfather, Pakistan’s first democratically elected head of state and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed three years before Fatima was born by General Zia-ul-Haq (who overthrew him in a military coup).

Fatima’s Aunt Benazir was shot in her car on December 27, 2007, while campaigning. Her uncle was poisoned in exile. And when Fatima was just fourteen, outside her home in Karachi, her father was shot by dozens of police in one of Pakistan’s famous “encounters.” From that same home, Fatima insists that this violence points back to the family; she believes not only that her aunt was morally responsible, but that she played a direct role.

Fatima’s father, Murtaza Bhutto, had been campaigning one night in September 1996. Fatima, her brother (then six), and stepmother had been waiting for him. They thought he might come home only to be arrested; he’d been criticizing Benazir over her government’s corruption and challenging her to return the PPP to their father’s original manifesto.

He’d also been critical of her Operation Cleanup against the Mohajir ethnic group, which allegedly claimed three thousand Mohajir in two years of extrajudicial killings. On this night, police and armored vehicles surrounded the house. But instead of the arrest the family was told to prepare for, Murtaza and several of his men were shot from the street and from treetops in an Operation Cleanup-style barrage of gunfire. Murtaza himself was shot point-blank in the jaw and dumped bleeding to death in a clinic known not to treat gunshot wounds. Young Fatima watched her father die, insisting today that given better treatment, he could have lived. For his death, she unequivocally blames her Aunt Benazir; she certainly has her reasons, which she discusses below.

American democracy means we’ll drone your village, it means we’ll bomb your schools, and it means you live in refugee camps.

But Fatima’s is not just a story of Pakistan’s past. Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is Pakistan’s current president. He is also a recipient of what Fatima describes as “millions and billions and scrillions” of American aid dollars.

Fatima’s grudge against him is both seething and personal. But she makes a strong case that President Obama’s new Af/Pak strategy not only fuels Zardari’s murderous corruption, but also helps him bumblingly legitimize the Taliban.

Pakistan (and Zardari’s) corruption is palpable to Pakistanis. Imagine a country where none of the schools gets its money; hospitals can’t reach their polio eradication goals because, despite having nuclear weapons, Pakistan can’t keep its electricity flowing to keep vaccines refrigerated. When the Taliban come, says Fatima, “people forget that they flog women” because they also bring schools, teach children to read, mobilize disaster recovery, and fill the vacuum left by government corruption.

It is a story of heartbreak Fatima has told in two newspaper columns in Pakistan, which discontinued with Zardari’s government, but that she continues to tell in The Daily Beast and The New Statesman. A graduate of Barnard College and the London School of Economics, Bhutto is the author of a book of poems, Whispers of the Desert, published when she was just fifteen, and an oral history of the earthquake that rocked the north of Pakistan, titled 8:50 a.m.

October 8, 2005. Like a Kennedy, like Hamlet (dad killed by uncle), catastrophe and politics have been her birthright. Rejecting dynastic politics, however, she insists that Pakistan is far better off with her as pundit than politico. But given that she still lives yards from where her dad was killed, it’s hard not to wonder, is she better off under this arrangement? I spoke with her by Skype from her home in Karachi, where she is at work on a book about the Bhutto family.

—Joel Whitney for Guernica

Guernica: You were inducted into adulthood in a rather violent way. Tell me about the death of your father.

Fatima Bhutto: My father at the time of his murder was an elected official. He had returned to Pakistan after some sixteen years of exile and had run for a provincial seat in the assembly, and won. He had not yet formed his own party, a reform movement actually, meant to bring the Pakistan People’s Party more in line with its original manifesto. His sister, Benazir, was prime minister at the time and chairperson for life, as it were, of their father’s PPP. And my father was very vocal about the corruption practiced by her government, and by herself personally and her husband [current President Asif Ali Zardari].

He was very vocal about compromises she had made coming into power, [and argued] that she did not represent the mantle of the PPP. [He was critical of] her crackdown, carried out by her security agencies, on the Mohajir ethnic groups in Karachi, and the MQM [Muttahida Quami Movement], a quasi-fascist ethnic movement. The operation Benazir initiated was called Operation Cleanup; it targeted members of the party but also ethnic Mohajirs, who she believed were terrorists, attacking her regime. They were not arrested, taken to court, or tried for these crimes she claimed they were committing. They were instead killed in these very dubious police encounters, where the police or the elite security group would turn up in an area; there would be several dozen of them; and they would kill the offending Mohajir member; usually, he would be shot in the back, and they would say, “We were trying to arrest him.” They never had warrants to back up their claim.

If I’m going to self-censor, then I’m going to be doing Zardari’s job for him. I’m not inclined to help him out in that way.

Guernica: But your father spoke out.

Fatima Bhutto: [My father] was very vocal about these extrajudicial murders being carried out by police. So when he was killed in September of 1996, he was by no means the first person to be killed in this way. He was returning home from a political rally in the outskirts of Karachi and came to the road in front of our house, Clifton Road. The streetlights had been closed. There were anywhere between seventy and a hundred policemen on the street in trees, in sniper position. All the embassies on our road had their security told to withdraw into their premises. The roads were blocked so when my father was stopped, a police officer was charged with confirming that it was him in the car, a signal was given, and then a barrage of fire followed.

Guernica: I understand you were nearby.

Fatima Bhutto: What is important about that night is several things. The seven men who were killed all died of shots to the head or chest; my father and one other man were killed with point-blank shots. The shot that killed [my father] was fired into his jaw at close range, the autopsy showed. After the shooting, the men were left to bleed for about forty-five minutes on the road. Just feet away from where this was all happening, we were not let out of our house; we were told by the police that there had been a robbery and to stay indoors. By the time we realized something was wrong, they moved the men. The men were not moved to emergency hospitals; they were moved to different locations. [When] we left the house forty-five minutes after the shooting, the roads had been cleaned. So there was no blood on the streets, no glass, nothing, all evidence washed away. Benazir was prime minister and did all kinds of strange things, like not allowing us to file a police report. Benazir’s government set up a tribunal that was to have no legal authority to pass sentence, designed, I imagine, as some sort of stalling technique. Eventually the tribunal ruled in several important ways. They concluded that it was in fact a shootout; using state ballistics and forensics, they saw that the only ammunition spent came from police.

Guernica: Is this an attempt to whitewash, in your view?

Fatima Bhutto: It may well have been. The tribunal was put in place by her government, but the ruling came after her government. Perhaps that afforded them a degree of freedom. The government always insisted it was a shootout even though there were no injuries on the police side (except one officer shot in the foot, later proved to be self-inflicted). The tribunal also ruled that the police had used an excessive amount of force and that they did not offer medical assistance in a timely manner. Most importantly, they concluded that the very public assassination of an elected member of Parliament could not have been carried out by police without approval from the highest levels of government. Of course, they stopped short of naming Benazir. But at that time, there was no one higher than the prime minister.

Then there is the Benazir we lived with in Pakistan, a two-time woman prime minister who didn’t remove the Hudood Ordinance; these are the most violent laws against women.

Guernica: You must have been filled with intense feelings like anger and fear and grief; you were just fourteen.

Fatima Bhutto: At the time, we lived in a city that was on fire. You know, weeks would go by when I couldn’t go to school because of riots. Gunfire was something we heard fairly frequently. So when I first heard the shots, I didn’t immediately think it had anything to do with me or my family. It was not an unusual noise to hear.

Guernica: Was there a moment when you realized what had happened?

Fatima Bhutto: We had seen police cars and these armored vehicles around our house. We were expecting something. But we expected that they would cook up some charge and simply put him in jail. He was expecting that, too, and had packed a briefcase with books and magazines. We didn’t have cell phones in Karachi; they’d been banned. So we had no way of reaching him. After the shooting ended, I started to get nervous. When we left our house, we looked and found him in a clinic called Mideast, quite close to where we lived. They don’t take gunshot cases. I watched my father die essentially because he hadn’t been taken to a medical facility that could treat his wounds. I was fourteen, but there were things immediately that began to seem so wrong that it was almost like your fear had to be pushed aside to understand these other things. For example, all the witnesses and the survivors were arrested and were held in jail (until Benazir’s government fell, actually). But all the police officers were honorably cleared in an internal review and reinstated to their posts.

Guernica: You said you pushed aside the fear. What about the grief?

Fatima Bhutto: It was impossible to push aside the grief. I was very, very close to my father. Every time I left our house, I would pass the spot where he was shot. Six other families lost people. We knew their children, we knew these men’s wives, we knew their mothers. So the grief was impossible to push aside. That was everywhere. And because he was a public figure and lived publicly, his death was also public. It meant we were grieving but also had to comfort a lot of other people who were grieving for him. And our grief was everywhere: in newspapers, the funeral was very public. But it’s sort of funny how these things happen; the fear is pushed aside because of the anger I felt in knowing all those survivors had been jailed. That sort of anger and confusion pushed aside the fear. The fact also that it was my aunt in charge of the government at that time…

Her grandfather, Pakistan’s first democratically elected head of state and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed three years before Fatima was born by General Zia-ul-Haq (who overthrew him in a military coup).

Guernica: You told the London Times: “I rang my aunt several times to ask why none of those who did the shooting had been arrested… She just said, ‘Fati, you don’t understand how this works.’” What do you think she meant?

Fatima Bhutto: You know, I think there were many Benazirs. When people in the West see Benazir, they see her in that sort of almost hagiographic light. Then there is the Benazir we lived with in Pakistan, a two-time woman prime minister who didn’t remove the Hudood Ordinance; these are the most violent laws against women. So you had a very opportunistic Benazir, [who was] entitled to power and behaved like it. And Benazir the personal one I knew. She was not someone who liked to be criticized, very domineering. When I had that conversation with her, my brother was six and I was fourteen. There was a lot of talk saying, “Well, this is an attack to finish the Bhutto line, and they’re gonna deal with the children, as well.”

So one week after our father was killed, we left. We went to Damascus where we had grown up and my mother’s parents, my grandparents who are Lebanese, came to stay with us. I was without my mother at the time; I was frightened. But I was hearing these facts in Pakistan, and when I called her up, she said, “Oh, you don’t understand; this is not how these things are done. This is not the movies.” I remember saying to her, “Well, look. How is it done?” And she gave these very Benazir answers: “Well, look, we’ve got to speak to the police officers first; we’ve got to find out who they’re allied to, what their political leanings are.” By no stretch was I a lawyer. But I just knew that’s not how you deal with police brutality. You didn’t take them aside and ask them who they voted for in the last election. I said to her as well that the scene of the crime was washed up… I said to her, “How is that allowed?” And she said, “Look, this is how it’s done in Pakistan.” Years later, after she was killed, the scene of her murder was also washed up. That’s what was so dangerous about Benazir; the power that she had as a two-time prime minister was enormous; had she used her office for something other than personal gain—for example, to rectify the system, to look into how police crimes are investigated—these things would not have continued happening, even to her.

Guernica: Did that conversation convince you she played a role in his death?

Fatima Bhutto: Yes, I think there are several roles. The first role is a moral role. She absolutely bears moral responsibility in that she presided over a state that was empowering the police and other security agencies to kill. Operation Cleanup was genocidal. Three thousand people in two years is no joke. And a lot of the police officers who were quite senior on Operation Cleanup were brought that night to kill my father. I mean, they were known for these extrajudicial murders. So on the one hand, yes, absolutely she’s responsible. And the more direct role that she played as prime minister, in terms of the investigation, suppressing facts from coming out, stopping us from filing a police case. She did a lot of things. One of the officials present that night on the road was Masood Sharif; he was the director general of the intelligence bureau, the office that reports directly to the prime minister. After the murder, Benazir awarded him a seat on the central committee of the People’s Party. Now for someone who’s accused in your brother’s murder, that sounds like a pretty strange thing to do. I think it speaks volumes to how Benazir and people in her party viewed power as a right.

Guernica: Looking ahead, what are Pakistan’s greatest challenges?

Fatima Bhutto: Corruption. [Pakistan has] a government universally known for graft, with the state treasury at its disposal. What that means is if you go to a state hospital just about anywhere in Pakistan, you are more likely to die than to receive treatment; they don’t have electricity, they don’t have sanitary conditions. If you are a child of school-going age in just about any rural area in Pakistan and your only option for an education is a government school, you’re going to end up illiterate. There are no teachers, no books, nothing. We’re an incredibly rich country in terms of our resources; we’ve got oil, gas, natural resources, we grow our own fruit. So forget the foreign aid for a moment. What that [corruption] means is that you create a vacuum; that vacuum has been and is still being filled by militant Islamic groups that come into these rural areas and bring schools. Everyone will naturally think that a madrasa is a jihadi training ground; that’s true in a lot of cases. But if your child is either going to be illiterate or is going to learn how to read and how to read the Koran at that madrasa, parents are going to take that option. It would be crazy to ask them not to. In 2005, we had a devastating earthquake in the northern part of the country. I went to a lot of the affected areas about a month after. We didn’t see any evidence of the state of Pakistan in these towns. But what we did see were a lot of Islamic charities, groups that had set up a mobile hospital unit, tent villages. If you want to look at the Taliban’s presence in Pakistan today, you can directly tie that to the corruption. If you want to look at the illiteracy rate in Pakistan today, you can tie that to the corruption. If you want to talk about the lack of democracy, that can again be tied to the corruption.

Guernica: The U.S. obviously plays a role here. And our new President Barack Obama rode into office on a platform for change. He did say he’d move troops from Iraq into Afghanistan, and now we’re seeing a military buildup, with drones and enormous amounts of aid, in Pakistan.

A graduate of Barnard College and the London School of Economics, Bhutto is the author of a book of poems, Whispers of the Desert, published when she was just fifteen, and an oral history of the earthquake that rocked the north of Pakistan, titled 8:50 a.m. October 8, 2005.

Fatima Bhutto: I haven’t met President Obama. And I have to say that when he was running, like almost everyone in the universe, I was incredibly excited by the prospect of him and found him incredibly inspiring. But as you said, unfortunately, not only has President Obama continued Bush’s policies in the region, he’s stepped them up a bit. What’s so frustrating is that he’s a man who understands nuance. I mean, for that man to call the entire region “Af/Pak” is mortifying to us because we’re two distinct countries. And to be lumped together in this Af/Pak sort of bundle is so Bush-like it breaks my, it breaks my heart.

I think the problem that Obama has made in Pakistan is an enormous one. Empowering Pakistan’s military and empowering this incredibly criminal and corrupt government with drone access and all the rest of it, and with billions and billions of dollars of aid, he’s just repeating the cycle. We’re seeing on a much larger scale a repeat of the earthquake. Pakistan took in, I think, $6.7 billion to deal with the earthquake. Four years later, we still have people in camps; that money has gone to some very high-up officials’ bank accounts and nowhere else. Except in this case, the Pakistan Army has entered into a guerrilla war and what Obama has proved to people in the region is that American democracy is always going to come down against the people. I mean, American democracy means we’ll drone your village, it means we’ll bomb your schools, and it means you live in refugee camps. The idea then of reaching out to the Muslim world, reaching out to places like Pakistan to explain to them that we share a common battle in fighting extremism, has been entirely lost. If I were going to meet President Obama, I would have so many things to say to him…

Guernica: I can hear that.

Fatima Bhutto: But [laughs] I think I would want to make clear to him that he’s opened a third front in my country. By allying America with this government, he has furthered the cause of the Pakistani Taliban so immensely, so immensely. Because when you’ve got these guys fighting the seventh largest army in the world and the first largest army in the world, and they’re fighting and they’re losing their homes, people forget that they flog women. People forget that they are in favor of an incredibly repressive Sharia system. Because what they see is that [the Taliban] are fighting a corrupt system, a corrupt government, a violent army.

Guernica: In addition to this militarism that the U.S. enables, there is the aid question.

Fatima Bhutto: Absolutely. All the Lugar Pak [the Kerry-Lugar Pakistan aid bill] money is not going to schools. One of the most extraordinary things that should be known about Pakistan is that we missed our Millennium Goals to eradicate polio because we cannot refrigerate the vaccines long enough to administer them because of the lack of electricity. This is a nuclear country that cannot run a refrigerator. When you’re giving Pakistan billions and trillions and scrillions of dollars, you’ve got to be aware of where that money is going. Obama is lucky because he’s dealing with someone with a record, he’s dealing with a government that has a history of corruption. Before Zardari became president, he was fighting corruption cases in Switzerland, Spain, and England.

Guernica: You’ve implicated Zardari in at least the cover-up of your father’s murder.

Fatima Bhutto: Not just mine. Before he became president, Zardari was standing trial in four murder cases; it’s eleven people, I believe, killed in these four cases. The man can barely string a sentence together in Urdu; forget about English. This is a man whose entire mandate rests on the fact that his dead wife named him heir apparent in a letter. He was elected by Parliament in the same way that General Pervez Musharraf was elected by Parliament. So it’s very difficult to say Musharraf was not democratically elected but Zardari was. Both of them were elected by their own parliaments. I think this is part of the great doublespeak you get when you talk about Pakistan. Zardari has not entered into a popular vote, and he’s got no mandate of the people. In my book, that’s not democratic. And I think that Obama has given the man a lifeline that he very desperately needed to stay in power.

Guernica: Other American politicians, you’ve pointed out, have given the sheen of legitimacy to corrupt Pakistani elections.

Fatima Bhutto: In 2007, John Kerry came. As per our election law, a woman wearing a burqa does not have to show her face in her ID photograph. And she does not have to show it when she votes. And you have people like John Kerry coming in and going to one station in Islamabad and saying, “Oh, yes, everything’s perfect; there are no problems here.”

Guernica: Tell me about the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The U.S. also helped push this through, you’ve complained, noting that it essentially wrote impunity into law.

Fatima Bhutto: This is the deal that Benazir orchestrated with General Musharraf before her death. Essentially, it clears some twenty years’ worth of corruption cases against politicians, bureaucrats, and bankers. It also contains a clause that will make it virtually impossible to file charges against a sitting member of government in the future. What is so phenomenally dangerous about the National Reconciliation Ordinance is it places people in power above the law. It essentially says there is one law for Pakistanis and another law for politicians.

Guernica: And the U.S. was very much in favor of this?

Fatima Bhutto: [Shouting] Yes, yes! [Calmer] The U.S., and—not just to be nasty to the U.S. —but also England. I gave a briefing at a political magazine in London a couple months ago and had a baroness explain to me how, actually, the National Reconciliation Ordinance was a great leap in political trust; it was going to make Pakistan a more stable place. The National Reconciliation Ordinance was initially put into place to excuse corruption and graft. But it’s been widened to excuse just about anything. When Zardari was cleared of his four murder cases, in the middle—mind you—of his ongoing trial, the National Reconciliation Ordinance was used. The PPP, putting this forward, said, “This is modeled on South Africa’s own Truth and Reconciliation Trials.” The joke is that, yes, it is. Except they forgot the “truth.” It’s a very, very dangerous precedent for our country.

Guernica: And you’ve butted up against some of the blowback from this?

Fatima Bhutto: I did a bit of campaigning in 2007, mainly door-to-door work particularly to get women to vote. I went into a lot of people’s homes. Sindh is really quite ethnically and religiously diverse, not at all known for any kind of extremism or anything like that. I noticed a lot of very strange Islamic political poster art hanging in people’s homes, posters of Khomeini and other scary things. In one house, I said, “Look, you’ve got a very big picture of Khomeini up there. Why is that?” The man of the house said, “He’s my ideal political figure.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “If we had a government like Khomeini, that was Islamic and honorable, we would never have the corruption we have today.” Obviously, that’s not the case in Iran. Certainly there is corruption. Religious government doesn’t remove that at all. But this is what people think.

Guernica: In addition to campaigning in 2007, you do work for women in other spheres.

Fatima Bhutto: I did door-to-door work to get women to vote, and did some work with women prisoners. We’ve got a lot of women in jail in Sindh and across the country under the Hadood Laws, and you also have a lot of children in jail with their mothers, as well, and very little interest from legal groups in providing pro bono help to women in jail. So I’ve worked on that, as well.

Guernica: And now the inevitable question every interviewer asks you: will you run for office, too?

Fatima Bhutto: My favorite. I really won’t. There are so many reasons not to enter politics that I can think of.

Guernica: When I read, watch, or hear you say in interviews that you don’t believe in dynastic politics, I always think, “Maybe that, paradoxically, is exactly who Pakistan needs.”

Fatima Bhutto: I don’t think so. Because at the end of the day, that would be saying, okay, dynasty is bad. But she’s quite clever and so she’s going to be the exception to the rule. That’s what they all say.

Guernica: Not just that you’re quite clever…

Fatima Bhutto: Well, but you know what I mean, quite brave or quite intelligent or has a good handle on economics or whatever it is. We’re already hearing from dynastic quarters in Pakistan: Yes, yes, I know it’s a dynasty. But actually, I’ve got great experience from my parents or… Yes, yes, I know dynasty is bad, but my uncle takes me along to all of his meetings and therefore I get to… Whatever. I think there are many other ways to push for change or be political, and I think that at the moment doing what I do, writing and speaking, I’m unfettered, I’m not obliged to anyone or anything, and I’m free to speak my mind. That’s not the case when you’re in politics.

Guernica: Another question you get a lot: As a Bhutto, your grandfather, uncle, father, and aunt have all been killed. Doesn’t that already put you in a risky and precarious situation? To add to that danger by staying in Pakistan and then announcing yourself as one of the most eloquent, clever, and persistent critics of the government, when does it get too dangerous for you?

At the time, we lived in a city that was on fire. You know, weeks would go by when I couldn’t go to school because of riots.

Fatima Bhutto: I think the situation there is unsafe as it is. Technically…

Guernica: I don’t mean to cut you off. It’s just that I’ve heard this answer from you before. But isn’t that a dodge? I don’t mean the safety of Pakistan, which we’ve discussed. I think it’s admirable that you conflate the two. I mean, your own safety.

Fatima Bhutto: Obviously, I think, you know, my safety… You’re right, I was dodging. It’s not the same as saying everyone else is safe. But I do think at times either you give them an open field and allow [politicians] to do what they do without questioning or pointing out the obvious failings (and in that case you aid corrupt and criminal government), or you don’t. Actually, [one of my Columbia professors, Hamid Dabashi] would say you don’t need tanks rolling down the streets anymore because they’re already rolling in our mind. If I’m going to self-censor, then I’m going to be doing Zardari’s job for him. I’m not inclined to help him out in that way.

Guernica: People wonder why you stay in Pakistan. I would never speak for you, but in one conversation, I said, “that’s her home.” Yet making these critiques against corruption, these charges that the current government was involved in covering up, and was morally responsible for your father’s murder, wouldn’t you be safer outside Pakistan?

Fatima Bhutto: I don’t think so. Because any protection you have comes from being in your home country with other people who think like you do. I think your answer for me is exactly right, actually. When I speak about these things in Pakistan, and I wouldn’t ever claim to speak for anyone either, or claim that my views are indicative of anyone else’s, I do feel I’m amongst others like me, sitting with other people without electricity for ten hours a day, listening to the gunfire outside our roads and I think—and maybe this is a figment of my imagination—it makes me feel safer.

Guernica: This magazine recently cosponsored an event honoring Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was killed for his activism in Nigeria. His son was asked whether the loss of his father was too great a sacrifice, and he said, “All of us have a choice, to make our children safe in the world or to make the world safe for our children.” I guess I can understand that kind of safety, safety among one’s own people and making the world safe for them…

Fatima Bhutto: To be with people who understand. I’m always shocked when people don’t agree with this. But when I say stop giving us money, stop giving Pakistan money, it’s not going to the places it should go, these billions of American taxpayers’ dollars are only perpetuating the problem, people always say it would be madness to pull out. And I always think to [tell] them, my god, if you would just come there, if you would just see where your money is going, you know… Whenever I say this abroad, I’m always met with this, “Don’t be crazy, we can’t pull out.” But when I say it in Pakistan, people agree because they don’t see any of that money. When I’m talking about things, it means a lot to be in Pakistan and to be able say, “Look, this is what happened yesterday down the road, this is what this person said, and if you want to come and see them and hear them, they’re here.” Maybe that’s just in my head, and it makes me incredibly naïve, but it makes me feel safer—at least, I think.

Guernica: But not physically safer.

Fatima Bhutto: Yeah, probably not. But it’s home. And if I said okay, you’re right, I am unsafe, I’ll just leave now, [then] I leave behind my mother and my brothers. And then you get into the argument that, if it’s not safe for me, then it’s not safe for anyone I care about and love in the country. And maybe we should just all move out for a while and take 180 million of us and we can all come and live in… I don’t know… Miami has nice weather, doesn’t it?

“Source: www.guernicamag.com”

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10 Responses to “In My Place”

  1. ali surya says:

    you have the power and the choice to break away from the circle of evil that is pakistani politic.
    you have the brain and the heart to transcend the misery of misguided religious mob. you have the opportunity to be ( and to serve) as a woman of this earth, a daughter of this humanity, not just another bloody pakistani.

  2. JINN says:

    Dear Imran,

    I would love to meet you personally and shave your mouch off! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR PAKISTAN!

    Take care ignorant…

  3. Well i am not into politics as such. . but miss fatima bhutto is very out spoken. i respect her for being so honest with her words. if this is true that benazir killed her dad. . then thats dissappointing.

    i adore your speaking skills fatima. loves from pakistan.

  4. Hamza says:


    You have no manners, also its idiotic to say those things about some ones passion. All your words are insulting and reflection of your damage personality. Right or wrong she lost her father in her arms.

  5. Imtiaz says:

    If she is critical of “Operation Cleanup” she is too naive and knows nothing about MQM. This operation was carried out on the orders of Nawaz Sharif. Fatima is under the influence of her Lebanese step mother. And her step mother, Ghinwa Bhutto has no affinity with Pakistan nor she cares about the people of Sindh who are virtually harassed and intimidated by MQM. To survive in pakistan she has to listen to the rogue elements of Pakistan agencies, comprising of MQM and remnants of Zia. Fatima is towing her mother’s line. The day she reconsiders her stance of accusing Benazir and Zardari of murdering her father, and points her finger at Pakistan’s security agencies she would meet her aunts fate.

  6. Johnny says:

    uhhh will you marry me???

  7. Naeem says:

    The real problem in Pakistan is that we don’t let others to speak out about their political or personal views. I would say the comments by unver are inappropriate and he has the right to say anything but with some decent words. I never liked the policies of her Aunt Benazir Bhutto and Zardari. Her father was a very controversial figure and quite an angry one too! Sometimes arrogance can take people towards suicide.
    But extrajudicial killing of anyone should be condemned. She became an orphan at a very young age and it was cruel to kill the seven people by police.
    As a person, Fatima Bhutto is a very intelligent and educated young woman and her poems and articles show her abilities. How somebody would understand the value of peoms and articles if they have not written one in their own lives!

  8. AJ says:

    Wheather we are agree or not with thier political ideas but she has a very nice personality . Its Pakistan fate that we are facing Drawing Room leader since birth .. there is nothing wrong from Fatima.

  9. unver says:

    She is great. You can see she means good for the country. She could live in west like other leaders. I wish people like her become the leaders of the country. As far as Imran’s comment on her father, I was also young at that time but if my memory serves me right, it was her uncle who had hijacked the plane plus why the deeds of others be blamed on her. Go Ms. Bhutto!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. imran says:

    Fatima, if you are going to read this, please understand that no one really gives a f**k about your poems or your personal feeling about your daddy. Your daddy was a terrorist. I know this cuz i was a young boy when he hijacked a PIA plane.

    Please realize that you are as worthless to Pakistan as Zardari and your aunty Bhutto.

    Ta Ta


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