‘Who Killed Benazir?’: an Interview with Fatima Bhutto

‘Who Killed Benazir?’: an Interview with Fatima Bhutto

"When Benazir died, I started calling her by the nickname we used all those years ago: Wadi Bua, which in our dialectic in [the] Sindh [province] is a term of endearment for father's elder sister. I don't know. It was just natural, spontaneous. All of a sudden, she stopped being the political opponent of recent times and went back to being the Wadi Bua of my childhood games, when I was five and she was thirty-five. They tell me she was killed by a bullet in the neck. Just like my father Murtaza, her brother. I've sort of suspended judgment. I've stopped accusing her of complicity in his murder in 1996. That was Benazir when she was alive: the bad aunt, the corrupt, unscrupulous feudal leader who stripped us of everything out of sheer lust for power. Now she is Wadi Bua again: my flesh and blood, another murdered member of the family, all to be mourned together -- without distinction."

Fatima Bhutto speaks steadily, without pausing. Sometimes she sounds like a young girl: younger than her 25 years. At other times, it is a responsible, mature politician who speaks, justifying her widely held reputation as a "true Bhutto": a label that she would rather see avoided out of respect for her ideal of a "truly democratic Pakistan" and her hostility to the "logic of bloodline succession." Speaking from the Bhutto family residence at Larkana a few weeks ago, she told me that it was too soon for an interview. "I don't want my well-known differences with my aunt to be instrumentalized," she said. But now, back at her home in Karachi, she is prepared to answer questions over the phone.

Fatima, also a journalist, is well aware that the power games within the Bhutto family are becoming a major story worldwide. What does she think about the succession to the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and the couple's eldest son, her cousin Bilawal, who has returned to Oxford for now?

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