She was 14 years old when her father was shot dead in a gun battle across their home in Karachi, Pakistan. Fourteen years later, Fatima Bhutto avenges her father’s murder, not with the sword as per the Bhutto tradition, but through her book “Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir.”
The book, published earlier this year, is an intimate account of Fatima’s father’s life and death based on not only her own observations but well-researched through friends, letters, articles, personal diaries. Although intensely emotional at times, the author offers a vivid impression of the Bhutto fold and the past and present of Pakistan’s ugly politics. The Bhuttos have witnessed four assassinations in the past 31 years: Murtaza and his sister Benazir were shot, another brother was poisoned, and their father Zulfikar was hanged.
The book is filled with a daughter’s rage, targeted largely at Benazir Bhutto and her husband, the current president of Pakistan, Asif Zardari. At the time of his murder, Benazir was prime minister and Fatima concludes that she was involved by either ordering the killing or covering it up. Fatima says her father had become a threat to Benazir after being released from prison; she feared he would take control over the Pakistan People’s Party. The author also suggests that Benazir, also known as aunt Pinky, also played a role in her uncle’s murder.
She documents a poem written by her father from jail mocking the two:
“Here is a small one on Wadi (Benazir) and Slippery Joe (presumably Asif Ali Zardari)
Inky, Pinky, Ponky
Her husband is a donkey
Both loot the country
Her husband is a monkey
Inky, Pinky, Ponky.”
The book has received angry protests across Pakistan regarding some of the facts. But the author insists that she has conducted proper research over six years.
‘The reaction to the book has been violent and angry and it has changed my life in terms of my security and access to my country.’
Songs of Blood and Sword is too personal to be viewed as an accurate chapter of the Bhutto history; it is more of a daughter’s attempt to absolve her father of all accusations and memorialize him. However, given that it is written by a member of the Bhutto family, provides some useful insight.