Photograph: Graeme Robertson Fatima Bhutto was 14 years old when her father, Mir Murtaza, was shot dead by police after a gun battle outside his Karachi home in Songs of Blood and Sword is an account of his life seen through her eyes. In clear and unpretentious prose it gives a vivid impression of the brutal and corrupt world of Pakistani power politics, which has resulted in the violent deaths of four members of the Bhutto dynasty in the past 31 years. The first was to avenge the death of his father, ex-president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, at the hands of the man who ousted him, General Zia-ul-Haq.
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And because I wanted to understand the psyche of a country read: Pakistan which has been repeatedly accused of exporting terrorism across the world.
And now, back to the book. Because, this book is very emotional, very political, and very biased. Fatima Bhutto, as a person, is very intriguing. In her book, she recounts the history of her illustrated family, and challenges the legacy of her aunt Benazir Bhutto Zardari, the first Female PM of Pak.
And anyone who reads the book will understand that the person who Fatima is today, is shaped by her father and his death. And the worst part of it: his own sister i. Zulfikar is practically hero-worshipped by Fatima throughout the book.
He was the one who tilted the nation in favor of China rather than USA, and that is a friendship that has stood the test of time. She writes about his vision for his nation and the love his people had for him.
Pakistan has often been accused of mass killings and human rights violations in the region. Again, Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan that had ethnic community of Bengalis as a major part of its population. These Bengalis of Bangladesh felt that they were being sidelined by the Pak Govt. So, they started their own independence movement. After months of brutal violence which saw millions of Bangladeshis killed, women raped, people displaced, a decisive war saw to the independence of Bangladesh.
Charming, charismatic, soft-spoken, dynamic and heir to the legacy of his father, Murtaza is portrayed as a hero by his daughter. The book successfully traces the journey of the Bhutto children there were four : two daughters, Benazir and Sanam, two sons, Murtaza and Shahnawaz.
All four of them studied in the top universities of the world and enjoyed the best that life had to offer them. Until their father was jailed.
Then began the long fight for his release, and when that failed and Pakistan fell into the hands of the dictator General Zia-Ul-Haq, its future also changed drastically.
After the dictator died in a mysterious plane crash, the Bhutto family returned home, sans Murtaza and Shahnawaz. Benazir goes on to become the Prime Minister, a post which Fatima feels should have been taken by her father. This is where the ugly head of patriarch-ism rears its head. But then, its also evident that Benazir anf Fatima shared a level of intimacy.
Fatima chaperoned Benazir during her date with her future husband Asif Ali Zardari. And several times she mentions how much she misses the wonderful and loving woman that her aunt used to be before the struggle for power alienated her. Both these sources painted Benazir as a paragon of virtue, as the change that Pakistan desperately needed. A little more research revealed that eminent historians like William Darlymple too agree with her.
Because she evidently sidelined passionate workers, and instead gave important Election seats to the wealthy and corrupt elite. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari who assumed the role of Prime Minister after her assassination , was accused of corruption several times, but was never brought to book. When one looks at it like this, Benazir may have harmed the democratic structure of Pakistan more than anybody else. Maybe not as much as General Zia, who introduced hardline Islamism to the nation, but definitely she altered the way politics played in Pakistan permanently.
Her blatant suspicion towards Benazir and her husband is basically screaming out at the reader. Finger-pointing aside, she essentially portrays how the children of the male members of the Bhutto family have been mistreated. Is it just that, then: a biased memoir?
Because women shine in this book. The women in the Bhutto family are resilient, and are way too familiar with the violence to which the family loses a member to in every decade. A very valid observation, in my opinion. And in this chaos, Murtaza rises as the symbol of what Pakistan could have been but lost due to one misfortune after another: a democratic, developing, secular country.
Not the impoverished exporter of Islamic terror that it is now. Share this:.
This book is about whiny rich politicians who it is hard to empathize with. She keeps talking about how This book is about whiny rich politicians who it is hard to empathize with. The incident with the most impact on her is that somebody kills her father. However, the rest of the book is her pining for justice as she reinvents her father a haloed angel who never did any wrong meaning it is heavily biased. The cruelty of the murder somehow seems diminished by the unconscious backdrop of excessive wealth and travel that seeps through as she gives the backstory about her family. Nevertheless, there is a lot of general hurt, which unfortunately makes for some utterly nonsensical narration.
Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto
Theme[ edit ] The book chronicles the tragic life of a family of rich feudal landlords — the Bhutto family of Pakistan. The author mainly describes the murder of her father, Murtaza Bhutto in a police encounter outside their home in Karachi when her aunt Benazir Bhutto was sitting Prime Minister. In the book, the author blamed her aunt and her husband Asif Ali Zardari for the murder of her father, who was the biggest threat for her government. The author also hinted that the mysterious poisoning of her uncle Shahnawaz Bhutto in was the work of some combination of the Zia regime , the CIA and Benazir. In addition to this, the book traces the history of four generations of Bhuttos and their political power, while also providing insights into the accusations of fraud and violence within Pakistani political circles. Critics[ edit ] Songs of Blood and Sword got mostly mixed reviews from critics. William Dalrymple published a review in Financial Times by saying "Songs of Blood and Sword is moving, witty and well-written.