Pakistan: Fatima Bhutto’s Name Comes Up

(Fatima Bhutto in Tehran)

It was inevitable that her name should eventually come up.

Now that the elections in Pakistan have been delayed for six weeks, there is more time to talk about who will take part in said elections, most specifically who really ought to lead the PPP—the late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.

At the moment, leadership is supposed to go to Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, who was named his mother’s successor in her will.

There are one or two problems with this idea of Bilawal leading his mother’s party.
For one thing, there is his young age and complete lack of anything resembling political experience. Plus Bilawal has spent very little time in Pakistan. (He’s going to school at Oxford now but grew up primarily in Dubai during the period of Benazir’s exile.) And, although it has been deemed important to have a Bhutto to replace the murdered Benazir, while Bilawal is a Bhutto by blood, he is not by name. He goes by the`last name of his father, Asif Ali Zardari. As a result, the necessary “Bhutto” has been hastily added to Bilawal’s moniker as a middle name.

However the biggest difficulty in having Bilawal
take over the PPP is that he won’t be doing so for a number of years. Instead, he will continue his studies at Oxford while his father acts as regent. And since his father—Benazir’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari— is roundly disliked by much of the Pakistani populace, this is an arrangement that is likely to unravel.

As a consequence many Pakistan watchers, both within the country and without, have been wondering when someone would get around to mentioning that there is, in fact, another Bhutto who is far better suited than Bilawal for a central role in Pakistani politics, and that Bhutto is Fatima, Benazir’s niece, a 25-year-old newspaper columnist and author. (For the earlier WLA interview with Fatima click here.)

Finally someone did mention it: On Sunday,
the London Telegraph published an article by Jemima Khan–ex-wife of Pakistani cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan—suggesting that “If a Bhutto Must Run Pakistan, why Not Fatima.” The article was quickly quoted by a
string of papers in the region, then some of the Pakistani bloggers picked it up. Now even regional TV is reporting the idea.

It seems unlikely that either Fatima
or the PPP will embrace this notion any time soon—given their past antipathy, and Fatima’s stated reluctance to run for office. On the other hand, Fatima is a very bright, talented and impassioned young woman, and sometimes with the passage of time and the right circumstances, what was once unlikely can suddenly seem very likely indeed.


  • The fourth and fifth paragraphs are a sad testimony to the near-absurdity of the “Bhutto” movement as a viable democratizing or “opposition” force. I haven’t had much sympathy for the figure of Bhutto herself or her entourage in recent years, but it strikes me that whatever actual “pro-democracy” forces have been attached to her as a figurehead – no matter how paradoxical, corrupt and opportunistic she was – they are in fact at square one in developing the political infrastructure to impact Pakistani politics. I hate to be crass, but given this ridiculous, insulting and far-fetched line of succession that’s being outlined for Bhutto’s party, the demise of “Bhuttoism” might be good riddance over the long term. From my admittedly impressionistic and distant view, given the “no good choices” and deep complexities that seem inherent in the current iteration of Pakistani politics, I’d take Mushareff over whatever the hell this fetishistic Bhuttoist “leadership” is supposed to represent.

  • Incidentally, if – God forbid – a Clinton must run America, after the last couple of weeks I’m leaning toward Chelsea…

  • I think Fatima is too talented, too precious, to be sacrificed on this todays murderous political stages.

    As long as people on this earth do not show any respect
    for people of different opinions/religions but just kill each other because come in your way – and not just that –
    but, as GWHush, goes the half way around the globe to kill Iraqis just because they are Muslims.. as long as that goes
    on please – DO NOT PUSH Fatima into this madness.


  • To clarify, my comment was not a reflection on Fatima Bhutto, but of the contextual “Bhuttoism” that strikes me as utterly anachronistic and wrongheaded in putting primacy on bloodlines as opposed to political seasoning and effectiveness of potential leadership.

  • Celeste, are you actually agreeing with John’s comment that “GWBush goes the half way around the globe to kill Iraqis just because they are Muslims?”

    I’ve said enough on this blog to indicate I’m not uninformed about what’s going on in Iraq/Pakistan/India etc., and surely no fan of the Bush Admin. and their ignorant blunderings which did indeed make matters worse in the region and for the image of the US: but… that statement is just plain wrong.

  • I’ve said enough on this blog to indicate I’m not uninformed about what’s going on in Iraq/Pakistan/India etc.

    Boy, is that an understatement.

  • you should talk, reg — as the undisputed reigning champion of the serial postings. yes, we can see you’re bored and in need of a master’s degree, if only you could skip the little step of a BS first. And that doesn’t mean the art of S-ing Bull.

  • WBC, I meant to echo what I thought was John’s suggestion that given the dangerous state of Pakistani politics that for Fatima to go into the political realm is not the best use of her intelligence and talents. It’s not worth the risk. She’s too valuable and talented to risk losing.

    I frankly didn’t notice the rest of it.

  • Yes, Fatima is the only hope for Pakistan from Bhutto family- she is the real Bhutto by blood and intellect. I am a regular reader of her articles and it’s hard to believe that she can have this oservation and intellect to write these articles. Her writings are based on very facts and concern of the welfare of masses. But before she walks in to the real field of politics, she has a lot of chalenges to face. Intellectual like Dr. Mubasher Hasan could be a very dependable guide but do not have enogh votes which counts in democracy and the people who have votes are not dependable at all. So please Fatima, take care of yourself first and then politics. We do not want to lose you for nothing. You can lead but lead the nation carefully and wisely. All the best, An unknown founder of PPP and a former PRO, Iranian Embassy, Saudi

  • FATIMA AND BILAWAL should lead the PPP if only Bhuttos has to do it. In 1967, the ppp was founded by talented people from all walks of life-the civil society, but fortunatly or unfortunatly party was headed by a feudal Z.A. Bhutto who was master of selling dreams to poor and oppressed people of the country. Poor and lower middle class played a role of worker for the party and organised it all over the country to grass root level. Later on all situation changed in 1977 when oppresser of the society, deudals were given way in the party and workers were ignored. Later on Z.A.Bhutto had paid a big price of his love for poors and was hanged by a general on instruction from other super powers. His young daughter replaced her gradually because of her talents of selling dreams like his father. She could not do any thing for oppressed people due to control democracy but his colleagues made hell of money and influence while in power. After military take over 1n 1999, she left for abroad and had learned lot of realities of the life and was anxious to do some thing for oppressed class of the country. But bad luck to poor people , she was assasinated mysteriously and lost her life. Now democratically PPP should have elected it’s leader and Iatazaz Ahsan, Shah Mehmud Qureshi, Yusaf Raza Gilani , Makhdoum Amin Fahim and Aftab Sherpao could have been very promising candidates to compete but there is no democracy no where in Pakistan so nomination brought Bilawal but it would have been much better to bring an other Bhutto, Fatima- a talented chrismatic in the fold to keep workers and oppressed people unite. This could have been done by Asif Zardari showing his GREATNESS and wiseness to nominate these two young Bhuttos in waiting list of leadership but unfortunatly Zardari did what a loving father should do- so nothing to discuss, let him deal with leadership of PPP and workers will be keep chanting jive jive Bhutto jive for decades to come. KHWAJA AFTAB ALI, Advocate & IP Attorney, an unknown founder worker of PPP, presently residing in Orlando, Florida, USA. phone 407-729-3983

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