“Youths In Pakistan Want To Change The System” —Fatima Murtaza Bhutto
Noted Pakistani writer, journalist and granddaughter of the former Pakistani President Zulfikkar Ali Bhutto, Fatima Murtaza Bhutto has said that the people of Pakistan and India are not enemies and there is no enmity between the common people of both the countries. She was speaking to Uday India on the sidelines of the Kovalam Literary festival, which was inaugurated by her recenty. Excerpts:
There has been a vehement criticism that your book Songs of Blood and Sword is a work done to legitimise your father Murtaza Bhutto and that it does not reflect the history, politics or the social situation of Pakistan in the right perspective.
The book is indeed a memoir of my father Murtaza Bhutto, but it dose reflect the history and politics of Pakistan. In the history part, I have done extensive research to cover it and feel that I have done justice to the work. Regarding the political and social aspects of Pakistan, I am clear headed about writing on it. Also the major part of the history accurred before I was born and I had to depend on lot of research materials available for writing this book.
Noted Pakistani writer and political activist who was once a student leader and then advisor to the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Raja Anwar in his book The Terror Prince: The Life and Death of Murtaza Bhutto has said that Murtaza Bhutto was behind the Al-Zulfikar Organisation and it was formed to avenge the death of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Your comments on this.
Raja Anwar has written this book after the tragic death of my father. He should have written it well before my father was assassinated as then he could have defended the writings against him in the book. Now there is no such defence as my father is no more. Second, Raja Anwar was in a Kabul prison from 1982 to 1985 during the period when these incidents occurred as claimed in the book. This means that he has relied on hearsay and not on facts. There have been several other mistakes in the book including the name of the persons and the places written in the book.
Your book has been published in English, French, Italian and even in Hindi. However it has not yet seen the light in the most popular medium in Pakistan—Urdu. Why is it so?
Urdu is the language used by the local and ordinary people of Pakistan. While English is used by the elite of the country. The elite is lazy and afraid and does not act and so the rulers don’t find it a major threat for a book published in a language read by the elite of Pakistan, but every ruler is afraid of the local people and rightly so the Pakistani establishment also fears that. No Urudu publisher has come forward to print my work in the Urdu language. No distributor was willing to sell this book.
Do you feel that the strong arm tactics employed by the Pakistani establishment is the reason behind the Urdu publishing houses not bringing out your work? What else will be the reason?
As a writer, I want the millions of Urdu-speaking and Urdu-reading local people of Pakistan read this book rather than the elite class which is always afraid to act and speak out. If it is published in Urdu, then local people will come to know of this and can understand what has happened to my father and where the country is heading for. This could have had a major impact on the society of Pakistan at large.
How is the young generation in Pakistan? Are they actively involved in cleansing the political system in your country or are they aloof to all these?
I cannot say at one shot on the young generation of Pakistan. They are from different classes in different areas. For instance, the youth of Sindh province may be different from other areas and Sindh is a place which I know well. Here the youths are restless and want to change the system or rather want to move out and do something for the country. In general throughout Pakistan there is a tendency among the youth to have freedom and they are for freedom and for free thinking just like youth of any country.
Do you think that a youth uprising will be coming up in Pakistan just as it happened in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and some Arab countries like Oman and Bahrain?
I don’t think that it is coming up now, but there are indeed the youths who want freedom and they want a corruption-free democratic political rule other than the dictatorship or the corrupt administration of today. However, we cannot rule out the possibility.
How do you rate the present Pakistani Government?
There is nothing much to say about the present Pakistani government and it is already into major acts of corruption and nepotism at the cost of the country of Pakistan.
Several Pakistani writers, authors and journalists have gone on record that the dreaded Inter services intelligence (ISI) has threatened them and that they were being followed. Have you ever been threatened by ISI?
ISI has never threatened me. But after my book Songs of Blood and Sword was published there has been several actions by the establishment against my family that can be considered to be as threat or more than that. In fact, the car in which my mother was travelling was shot at. Those who went to complain against this and to file a First Information Report were beaten up by the police.
Are these threats the handiwork of the Pakistani establishment as such or that of a single individual, Asif Ali Zardari?
I cannot say that. But Asif Ali Zardari is still an accused of the allegations raised by me and he can very well employ any means against me. Moreover he is at present the President of Pakistan and is very powerful.
You are a vehement critic of the facebook. Why is it so?
Facebook intrudes into our personal life and it can easily produce all our details at a tuch of a finger to any agency around the world which needs it. This is not good for a civil society. However, YouTube and messaging are excellent. Facebook is also intruding into our sites and is looking at all those sites we have visited or built friendship.
Facebook has however given the inspiration for the Jasmine revolution. Wasn’t it a good role?
Of course. Other than Facebook there were other social networking sites and the mobile messages and YouTube also. I do say that as freedom is ultimate people are welcome to use anything which they like but there is skepticism on Facebook as it can provide each and every information it has to anyone or any country who enquires about it.
Do you feel that Pakistan is a failed state?
No, never. Pakistani people have self-determination. Our country is rich and abundant in oil, minerals, gold, rice and other agriculture produce and the people have the will to work. Around sixty per cent of the population is under thirty years of age. The handiwork of one or two corrupt and power-hungry individuals who run the country as their fiefdom is creating problems and not the country as a whole. So I think Pakistan has a good future and that it will rise to its potential.
What is the situation of the minorities in Pakistan?
The minorities do have their problem in Pakistan as they have in India. However, the nature of the difficulties vary from place to place. There are Temples and Churches in Sindh area, but maybe in other parts these are not seen much. The problems being faced by the minorities of Pakistan is the one faced in other countries also. Just before this visit I had entered the Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi and did not face any problems.
What about the situation in Baluchistan?
Baluchistan is one of the areas of our country which is rich in mineral wealth. There are issues in Baluchistan and there are thoughts that it is the handiwork of foreign powers. If the Baluch people are naturally uprising for their rights, then there is nothing wrong in it. But if there are foreign powers involved in it, then we have to know what their motive is.
There has been uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya recently. Your comments on this.
The revolution in Egypt and Tunisia has been organic and from the locals. We know that students had taken to the streets in these countries to overthrow corrupt rulers and administrations. In Libya, the situation is different. We don’t know who was behind these forces who had led the movement. Is it the Al Qaeda, is it some other forces? It is interesting to note that the American embassy has issued a notification that there is huge oil wealth in Libya.
You come from the famous Bhutto family. In India there is the noted Gandhi family. Do you find anything in common between these two families as both have ruled their respective countries and there has been tragedies in both the families?
I cannot say that there is anything in common between these two families. I am of the opinion that one should not enter politics claiming to be from a family which has a political history and lineage. This is not the right thing to do in politics.
Is there any new book in the offing?
Yes, I am planning a book on Karachi. However, it will take time as I am presently on a tour to promote my new book Songs of Blood and Sword throughout the world.
By Reshmi Padma from Thiruvananthapuram