Fatima Bhutto: please focus on fiction

Nasima Zehra Awan

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. Throw in her photogenic looks and her propensity to endear herself with the security establishment and she is the poster child for them. This poor author does not share the same connections as Fatima Bhutto, so she will clearly not pass of (Fatima’s) alleged ISI links as established fact. Clearly, my humble perception was reinforced when I read her recent article, “Why my uncle Asif Ali Zardari’s rule in Pakistan cannot be trusted“.

The most outlandish spin in her article was that it was President Zardari who had banned facebook in Pakistan:”banned 500 websites — including YouTube, Facebook and Google — under the pretence of protesting against anti-Islamic material on the web” Two months ago, in their zeal to accommodate their political benefactors, Pakistan’s compromised Judiciary allowed for petitions that called for the banning of facebook and all the sites alluded to by Fatima. In their Islamist zeal, the Lahore High Court passed a judicial order that called for closing internet access to facebook. Zardari’s coalition government, already being lynched by the Judiciary had no choice but to comply. It is extremely disingenuous of Fatima to completely remove the context and the major instigators of internet censorship in Pakistan and place the blame on the President. The latter had already limited his role in governance by initiating and guiding the parliament to pass the 18th Amendment that gave back most executive powers to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers! What Fatima completely fails to mention is that the temporary facebook banning in Pakistan had nothing to do with Zardari and everything to do a politicized Judiciary that was returning favours to its Jamaat Islami backers.

This is the same Judiciary whose four senior judges, including the Chief Justice, were re-instated by the de facto ruler of Pakistan. What Fatima conveniently sidesteps is the reactionary movement that “restored the Judiciary” and that comprised the Taliban, failed bourgeoisie “intellectuals and the North Punjabi political elite was put in place by the security establishment to pressurize the PPP into accepting its political diktat. However, this is not the narrative that one will hear from much of the reactionary middle class “intelligentsia” and certainly not from someone who is still undergoing a psychosis where she blames Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto for the death of her father and uncle. Maybe some therapy is in order.

The rest of the article traverses a similar path of the same rehashed propaganda that is at times quite shoddy. It stays on script when it blames Zardari for his alleged looting of the country to the tune of 2-3 billion (the number is always variable and depends on the mood of the day and the accuser) and for all the violence in which the highest casualties are actually the secular nationalists who vote for the PPP or their coalition allies, the ANP.

Fatima rehashes the same tired Islamist apologies that condemn drone attacks against Al Qaeeda based militants that have held Pakistan’s Pushtun population as hostage without examining the role of these militias in killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis; especially the brutal attacks on Pakistan’s religious and sectarian minorities. She completely ignores the fact that these drone attacks have killed scores of foreign Islamist militants. Typically of the contemptuous attitude of Pakistan’s upper class elites, the alternative narrative of the Pushtun Nationalists, who have suffered the most from Taliban violence and who do not sympathize with the security establishment’s role in supporting the Taliban, finds no mention in her diatribe. For Pushtuns, the drone attacks are a necessary evil that killed significant members of the Taliban leadership, including the Pakistani Taliban chief, Baitullah Meshud just months ago. Ofcourse, such facts would be an uncomfortable aberration in the cozy and simplistic narrative that is spouted by the likes of Fatima Bhutto and her urban elite counterparts and high society celebrities.

After all, her well articulated spiel is the trashy narrative that passes off as nationalism amongst Pakistan’s elite class who cling on to it every rotten lie and its interconnected edifice; an edifice that consists of millionaire media bigots, corrupt bureaucrats, violent mullahs and billionaire businessmen and the khakis who control all the shots. Her narrative is the impotent rage that the educated elites project into attacking Zardari as it prevents them from truly looking at the rot within and without.In throwing everything but the kitchen sink to trash her relatives, Fatima Bhutto stumbles into the realm of the absurd.

“The longer Zardari and his coterie are funded in the billions and welcomed by democratic governments, the longer Pakistan will remain hostage to obtuse political posturing, corruption and violent instability. Pakistan and the world cannot afford much more of the Zardaris in power.”News flash Fatima. Zardari and his “coterie” were elected; something that your faction of the party failed to achieve in three consecutive elections in spite of having the backing of your feudal relative and establishment toady, Mumtaz Bhutto; the same disgraced politician who betrayed your grand-father and who was instrumental in sending him to the gallows by collaborating with the then military dictator, Zia ul Haq against his own cousin. It may offend your sensibilities but democratic governments do welcome other nascent democratic governments and their representatives; a fact you many not understand given your predeliction to support military dictators, directly and indirectly.

What do you propose if you don’t want Zardari in power; its not as though he came in another coup like Musharraf, Pakistan’s last military dictator whom you defended and supported in a 2008 article. (http://www.dawn.com/2008/08/16/top16.htm) . Fatima also fails to mention that the billions that were promised to Pakistan via the Kerry Lugar Bill were part of the most heavily audited aid package ever given to Pakistan, most of which was routed directly to US aid agencies and not to “Zardari’s coterie”.

Ironically, the person who backed his political capital to support this bill was the much reviled Zardari, while the media took its cue from the security establishment and in the ensuing days, the PPP lead government was nearly derailed for accepting the anti-Taliban, pro-democratic and anti-proliferation conditions of this bill. Fatima writes: “Zardari denied the meeting through unelected spokespeople”Unelected spokespeople!

Really Fatima.. Are you telling us that spokespeople have to be elected!!! Farhatullah Babar is a senior member of the PPP and is widely respected. I am sure if he stood in an election on the PPP ticket, he would trounce the candidate from your family run fiefdom quite handily as Khuhru did in 2008. However, he does not have be elected to be a spokesperson. Neither do federal ministers and provincial ministers. They are chosen by elected representatives because of their ability to perform specific functions. You might want to look that up your father’s notes from Harvard and hope that he attended some lectures at their fabled school of government.

However, I think you will remain more comfortable in your palatial mansion in Clifton from where your step-mom kicked out your aunt, Benazir Bhutto, your feudal estates where your coterie of Ghinwa and Mumtaz disinherited Sanam Bhutto and Benazir’s kids of their rightful inheritance or in the cozy air conditioned environment of Pakistan’s premier elitist cafe and your favourite hangout, Expresso. There you and other shinning lights of Pakistan’s upper class elites can blow off the equivalent of half a months average salary of ordinary Pakistanis as you heap further slander on your dead aunt and the current elected leadership of Pakistan.

As you polish off the scrumptious carrot cake there, you can continue to rehash the same establishment propaganda where human rights are the exclusive domain of Aafia Siddiqui and the Taliban and corruption is the exclusive accusation solely against your murdered and lynched relatives and simply does not apply to your buddies whose parents made their fortunes by greasing the hands of the judiciary, avoiding taxes and getting exclusive business deals from those who wield the real power in this country; the establishment and its various subsidiaries against whose crimes, you and your class have never had the moral fibre and integrity, to protest and condemn.

Readers may also wish to read this earlier post:

https://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/open-letter-to-fatima-bhutto/

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31 Comments

Filed under Benazir Bhutto, journalism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Politics

31 responses to “Fatima Bhutto: please focus on fiction

  1. neel123

    Wow ….. !
    Mr 10 % has a formidable ally in Nasima Zehra ….. ! Life is indeed full of surprises.

  2. Ali

    Thank you Nasima Zehra! Thank you. I could deal with Fatima Bhutto being a Zardari-hater but she is a miserable, hypocritical liar in the bargain. Thank you!!!!

  3. Tilsim

    Fatima Bhutto is just like many commentators in Pakistan. They don’t like to bother themselves with the facts and present a balanced perspective. She also has too much of her own baggage to be a source of information. That does n’t mean that Zardari is an angel but it does mean that truth is always a casualty. Very unimpressive. Well done Nasim for exposing the fallacies.

  4. Not really a grammar nazi

    *Espresso

  5. What Fatima conveniently sidesteps is the reactionary movement that “restored the Judiciary” and that comprised of the Taliban, failed bourgeoisie “intellectuals and the North Punjabi political elite was put in place by the security establishment to pressurize the PPP into accepting its political diktat.

    So, now the lawyers’ movement which was headed by Aitezaz Ahsan et al is something “comprised of Taliban” and “put in place by the security establishment”

    WTF!

    And you accuse Fatima Bhutto (not a fan of hers either btw) of hyperbole?

  6. yawar

    Excellent piece. loved it. If only Fatima would do us and most of all her own talent a favour by stopping to write on politics. I mean, she sounds like a naive college kid with her head way up in the clouds.
    Weisey, a question for Ms. fatima: Where does all that money come from that was used on your education abroad and which you now use?

    Feudal money? If so, then Zaradri has that kinda money too. So what’s the difference?

  7. Ali Abbas

    @ta’ban,

    There was a Daily Times piece which highlighted posters supporting Al Qaeeda at these rallies.

    Similarly, Jamaat Islami and the Taliban apologists/planners/promotors like Hamid Gul, Imran Khan were a central part of this “movement”. Lal Masjid/Sipah Sahaba were also part of this movement and while Aitzaz Ahsan condemned the Govt. action against the Lal Masjid, I have seen nothing on the record where he has condemned the Lal Masjid/Sipah Sahaba for their hate mongering, vigilante violence, illigal land-grabbing, blatant sectarianism (kidnapping those Shia women and holding even their infant as a hostage and breaking them down with their bigotry). Lal Masjid was where the ISI re-launched the Sipah Sahaba in 2006 and look what they have done to the Christains, Ahmadis, Shias, Brehlvis, Hindus since then.

    While some of our intelligensia swallow the establishment spun bullshit about good-bad-Punjabi-Pakistani-Afghani Taliban being seperate and then further separate them from the local Jihadi-sectarian groups and their sponsors, promoters and apologists like Jamaat Islami, there is too much good research by the likes of Khaled Ahmed, Amir Mir, Arif Jamal, Ayesha Siddiqa and others that provide the clear links.

    I think Nasima has stated very strongly what many of us feel…

  8. arifp

    About time someone exposed Fatima Bhutto for her hypocrisy and lies. Then again, maybe we misjudge her, and all she needs is our sympathy and a good shrink!

  9. Masood Qazi

    Absolutely loved the way you tried to deflect Zardari’s mindless incompetencies by taking Fatima Bhutto as a cover up. And especially when there’s no mention of the theme around which Fatima Bhutto has centered her recent articles, i.e. President honeymooning in Europe in multiple acre palaces and ‘lowest’ category 5-star hotels while the millions at home are subjected to state’s inability to be reactive to the disasters being faced.

    Maybe you’re one of the handful delusional folk who’s feeling a bit cool these days defending the newly-adopted blog-world’s mr. 10% and that he’s the cleanest of the devils we’ve around, with crystal clear past. And yes, with the mindset that Hakim Zardari’s Paris chateau was indeed a pre-BB/PPP property (with him owning the Bambino cinema Karachi and acquiring that multi-acre chateau).

    p.s. Sara Taseer did a lot of ranting too recently. No use, I’m afraid since subjective points are more important than utilizing someone as a mere tool to defend the most hated (and with extreme vitriol) individual in the history of Pakistani politics.

  10. shahid

    @neel123

    “Mr 10 % has a formidable ally in Nasima Zehra”

    Nasim Zehra is probably looking for a cushy post by Zardari govt in exchange for her support.

  11. Wow. That is a passionately written post.

  12. Arisha

    “As you polish off the scrumptious carrot cake there, you can continue to rehash the same establishment propaganda where human rights are the exclusive domain of Aafia Siddiqui and the Taliban and corruption is the exclusive accusation solely against your murdered and lynched relatives and simply does not apply to your buddies whose parents made their fortunes by greasing the hands of the judiciary, avoiding taxes and getting exclusive business deals from those who wield the real power in this country; the establishment and its various subsidiaries against whose crimes, you and your class have never had the moral fibre and integrity, to protest and condemn.”

    Great words, couldnt have said it better myself.

  13. sana

    This is a strange time to be seeing such an impassioned defense of a pathetic excuse for a president. And to be attacking his adversary for her ‘class’ affiliation seems disingenuous, to say the very least.

  14. aliarqam

    President Of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari is not worse than Mush,

  15. Hayyer

    Pakistanis should pay more attention to young Fatima. She is cast in the mould of Zulfikar Ali and would make a formidable politician; better than her late aunt I dare say.

  16. Sher Zaman

    Politics has been made a family business in our country; It is true of the author that Fatima must stay with fiction, which is her domain and must refrain from indulging in politics.

  17. Tilsim

    @ Hayyer

    I was n’t aware that Fatima Bhutto is seeking office. Is there a new development in this regard?

  18. Bina Shah

    How does the author know the carrot cake is scrumptious unless she’s been to Espresso herself?

  19. Hayyer

    Tilsim:

    Just a guess. What do you think?

  20. Tilsim

    @ Hayyer

    I have n’t heard anything but clearly she is positioning herself in a concerted way for the public eye by taking on the garb of an analyst on Pakistan, specially the Zardari/Bhutto family and PPP.

    If she does want a role in politics, I would think it will most probably have to be outside the PPP whilst Zardari is around. Otherwise to be part of the PPP, she will have to let go of considerable emotional baggage, at least publically. I am hoping that some PPP insiders can share their views on this forum.

  21. @Ali Abbas: I agree that the lawyers’ movement was a hodgepodge of grassroots elements and no doubt there were AQ and talib supporters/sympathisers/mouthpieces like Qazi and Imran, however let us not forget the actual leadership which consisted of people like Aitezaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd etc.

    Yes the pakistani right tried to usurp the movement, but also yes they failed. Their frustration at not being able to ‘take it to the next level’ by attacking the president house at the culmination of the first long march was quite evident.

    The point of satisfaction for me was that JI and it’s lota bardar Imran khan (aka PTI) got taken for a ride for a change. Actually they helped restore not the judiciary but a concept of rule of Law (CJ Iftikhar is no sacred cow for me) in a typical pakistani half-ass fashion. But it was a sea change. A step in the right direction and to equate it with Al.Q and Taliban just because some of the undemocratic constituents is a stretch of the imagination at best.

    Re: AA and his lack of criticism of Talib/SSP/What.have.you is pretty obvious to me. That is a battle he doesn’t want to fight and if he goes after the talibs openly, who’s going to provide security for him? Me and what army?

    The damage he did through the restoration of judiciary to the jihadi/law-of-the-jungle cause in the psyche of the Pakistani people is a lot more than mere biyan baazi against talibs.

    I don’t fault him for putting his neck on the line. In an environment where socalled “People’s” party starts acting like religious/ethnic fascist parties (I’m looking at you JI/MQM) the moment it gets criticized, I would also be reticent about openly talking shyte about those who don’t think twice about blasting your family off the face of this land of the pure should you question their tactics.

    P.S. I think Fatimah Bhutto’s piece was lousy, inconsistent and incoherent, I was hoping for a ‘better takedown’ I guess. I’m too lazy to do it meself.

  22. Super interesting post. Informative.
    I agree in bits, not with all of it. It’s somehow hard to separate fact from opinion, maybe because I’m not as familiar with Pak politics.

    I’m curious as to why you’re so so pissed though, at Fatima Bhutto? Understood that FB has a personal vendetta against Zardari and uses her writing to bash him at every opportunity but your article is a touch away from being objective about her. Why though?

  23. Mustafa Shaban

    @fourreasons: Agreed, I do not know a lot about FB and everybody has a rite to criticize, but this article also has its own biases and the author is trying to be witty and sarcastic but it doesnt work.

  24. R Alam

    * stands up and cheers *

    F. Bhutto lowers Pakistani political discourse with non-sequitors. Enough, I say. Enough.

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  27. I am for that Bhutto beauty
    Fatima’s choice is the duty
    Fatima Bhutto is delight
    Wish her face stays in sight

    She is Pak and Lebanese mix
    Fatima babe, yes she can fix
    Fix them crooks, Fatima yes
    You got charms that you possess

    Lovely eyes, apple cheeks
    Rose like lips, her one seeks
    Fatima Bhutto is spring flower
    Pretty thing she is April shower

    BB, ZAB are now past
    Zardari thing, will he last
    I aint against any them
    But that Fatima, she is gem

    Fatima Bhutto is sweet heart
    Find her so, right from start
    Let me look her face a while
    Fatima O we love your smile

    And for ever, you stay sweet
    Sweet thing you are so discreet
    Like Isabela Peron ‘you’ll be
    Preetiest politician, we willl see

    Let me give you good wish kiss
    Fatima Bhutto , you we miss
    Welcome, wish you go to top
    And your path no one will stop

    Stay as grand as you are
    More so pretty like a star
    Did you step out of a cloud
    You look fairy in the crowd

    Like a fairy,you are sweet
    You in politics, yes we greet
    Greet you cause you are the best
    Fatima Bhutto, you are prettiest

  28. shiza

    a thought provoking article & a reality check 4 fatima

  29. i used 2 look forward 4 the articles of fatima bhutto over the past few years but not any more.sadly,i have to agree with the writer that fatima has lost her credibility as a writer.articles and books r not written to settle personal scores.moreover,its sheer intellectual dishonesty on part of a writer and journalist to distort facts .although evryone has a right to his or her own opinion,fatima’s articles lack objectivity.as a result she has been discredited as a writer and analyst.

  30. somehow, i tend to agree with the writer that criticism over criticism seems 2 be the policy of fatima.one may dislike zardari or disagree with his politics but it doesnt mean that he has done everything wrong.some major achievements have been made by his govt.like NFC awards,18th amendement,balochistan package,successful operation in swat,etc.Not a single case of corruption in IDP’S fund 4 swat victims have been registered.3 million people have finally returned to the valley. yes , floods have caused enormous damage in the country.at this hour of crisis when we all r joining hands, u r playing politics on this issue,that too, in the international media.please,rise above your personal biases.unfortunately,u have let us all down

  31. Sh

    Very well written article Naseem… If Fatmia supports democracy then she should also support this democratically elected govt…. She is a pathetic political analyst….