Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Pub: 27 October 2011
Begum Nusrat Bhutto was the wife of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan between 1973 and 1977. She suffered not only his loss, when he was hanged in April 1979 by General Zia ul Haq, but the early deaths of both her sons and of her daughter Benazir, leaving only one child, a daughter, to survive her. The beautiful Iranian-born matriarch became a focus for Bhutto's supporters during his trial and after, and petitioned the country's Supreme Court against the imposition of martial law, but lived to see her children and grandchildren bitterly divided.
At the end of his four-day final statement on appeal, Bhutto, thin, drawn and in ill-health, presented her with a rose. Their farewell was conducted in Rawalpindi District Jail, where she had to reach across a table placed in front of the bars of the death cell to touch his hand. She was not allowed to kiss or hug him. Having been told he would be hanged at dawn, she woke at 4.30am to find he had been executed two and a half hours before and the body removed. She was not allowed to attend his interment at the Bhutto family grave.
The conviction and sentence, on a revived charge of conspiracy to murder of which Bhutto had already been exonerated, were widely considered both in the West and the Islamic world to be judicial murder. Begum Bhutto's challenge to the legality of Martial Law Order 12 of 1977 brought a judgment in the Pakistan Supreme Court which held it to be covered by the law of necessity. The military government promised elections within 90 days, but years were to pass before Pakistanis would be allowed to vote again. Begum Bhutto was prominent in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, which was formed in 1981.
In July 1985 her son Shahnawaz was found dead at the age of 27 in a flat in Nice. He and his brother Murtaza were said to have been given poison phials to take if appreh-ended, but the death remains unexplained.
Shahnawaz and Murtaza had been living in Kabul, and Zia's government is said to have insinuated that a resistance group called Al-Zulfikar, responsible for the hijack of a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and the shooting of a passenger, was linked to the PPP. General Zia was killed in an air crash on 17 August 1988, and the PPP returned to power after a general election in which it won 94 of 207 seats, with Benazir as Prime Minister until 1990 and from 1993-96.
Begum Bhutto, who was PPP chairman from 1979-1983, was elected Assembly Member for Larkana in 1988, and after the interlude of the Islamic Democratic Alliance government, represented the same seat from 1993-96. Though Benazir had asked Begum Bhutto and an aunt to arrange a marriage for her, and in 1987 married Asif Ali Zardari, mother and daughter grew apart, and in 1993 Begum Bhutto was ousted from her long-standing position as co-chairperson of the PPP.
Further anguish awaited when in 1996 her elder son Murtaza was gunned down in Karachi. According to her granddaughter, Murtaza's daughter Fatima, in her book dedicated to Nusrat, Songs of Blood and Sword (2010), "she never recovered. The day after the burial she walked up and down... calling her son: 'Tell Mir he should change his burial shroud, it's full of blood."
Though Begum Bhutto was elected to the National Assembly again in 1997, the first signs of Alzheimer's Disease were affecting her, and she left for Dubai. According to Fatima she was swept away by Benazir and kept from returning to Pakistan or seeing Murtaza's family. Her declining condition is said to have spared her the further sorrow of knowing of Benazir's assassination in 2007.
Nusrat Ispahani came from a cosmopolitan Iranian business family which settled in Bombay before moving to Karachi. There Zulfikar Ali Bhutto saw the tall beauty with dark auburn hair at a wedding and fell in love with her. Though already married at 13 to Begum Amir, a cousin 10 years older than he was, Bhutto overcame his mother's opposition and the difference between his family's Sunni faith and Nusrat's Shia one to take her as his second wife.
From going about in public without a veil, driving cars, and being an officer in the paramilitary women's force, the National Guard, Nusrat entered purdah with the other women of the feudal landowning Bhutto family, going out to visit her family once a week.
In the early years of their marriage Bhutto practised as a barrister before entering the government of General Ayub Khan. He resigned as foreign minister in opposition to the capitulation to India after the 1965 war over Kashmir and founded the PPP, which won the 1970 election. After the secession of East Pakistan as Bangladesh Nusrat was First Lady of a truncated Pakistan in which Bhutto became President and chief martial law administrator. In 1973 a new constitution reduced the Presidency to a ceremonial role and Bhutto became Prime Minister.
Nusrat Ispahani, politician: born Isfahan, Iran 23 March 1929; married 1951 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (died 1979; one daughter, and one daughter deceased, two sons deceased); died Dubai 23 October 2011.
By Saba Imtiaz
In a 1975 interview, Nusrat said she refused to go to college because her grandfather insisted she will have to wear a burqa. “Women here (in Pakistan) are treated like pieces of furniture,” she said. “We are human beings, and we should be heard.” Nusrat’s family migrated to Karachi in 1947. Nusrat joined the Pakistan Women’s National Guard, knew martial drill and learned to drive trucks and ambulances.
She met Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1949, when he returned to Karachi from Berkeley to attend his sister’s wedding. They were introduced by his mother when they ran into each other at a bank, and then later at the wedding, where Zulfikar kept dancing with Nusrat. Zulfikar proposed to Nusrat but she “took it as a joke” because she knew he was returning to college.
Bhutto’s parents objected to the match because Nusrat was not Sindhi and her father was a businessman. According to Fatima Bhutto’s book Songs of Blood and Sword, the headstrong Zulfikar decided to elope with Nusrat, enlisting the help of a friend who raced around Karachi trying to find a Shia cleric to conduct the nikah. Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto later hosted a reception for the couple.
Nusrat spent some time in London with Zulfikar and returned to Karachi for the birth of their first child, Benazir. The couple had three more children – Murtaza, Sanam and Shahnawaz.
Nusrat took on political roles while her husband was still in power, including a position in the cabinet.
Journalist Fifi Haroon recalls first meeting Nusrat at a women’s festival in Karachi in the 1970s, where Haroon was volunteering. “She suddenly looked at me and said, ‘are you one of the Haroon girls?’ It is the last thing you’d expect that the prime minister’s wife would approach a young schoolgirl and talk to her. She was a very gracious and dignified person.”
But when Bhutto’s government was deposed and he was imprisoned by General Ziaul Haq’s regime, Nusrat was faced with a choice – go abroad or live in Pakistan but stay out of politics. Nusrat chose to continue her husband’s legacy and struggle for his release.
“Many important political figures had left the party, so Begum Bhutto renewed the party,” longtime PPP activist Taj Haider said.
The 1970s and 1980s were marked with numerous house arrests and detentions for Benazir and Nusrat and the Zia regime did not allow her to attend her husband’s funeral after he was executed in 1979.
Nusrat’s health began to deteriorate and in 1982, she was finally allowed to leave the country for medical treatment after doctors suspected she had cancer.
In 1987, Haroon recalls, joy finally came to the Bhutto household when Benazir was married to Asif Ali Zardari. “Nusrat was very happy and was very involved. I would go to 70 Clifton almost every day and Benazir would be trying on different styles of make-up. She would look and say, ‘There is no way you’re doing this … it isn’t right or it’s too light.’.”
Kamal Azfar, who worked closely with Zulfikar and Benazir Bhutto, recalled Nusrat as a wonderful person and hostess and recalls how caring she was as a mother.
“Her son was the apple of her eye,” Azfar says. Nusrat and Benazir’s relationship took a turn in 1993, when Murtaza announced he would return to Pakistan. Nusrat was split between her two children and in 1994, she blamed Benazir for the firing and teargas shelling by security forces as Nusrat led a procession in Larkana. Nusrat, who had outlived the deaths of her husband and one of her sons, never recovered after Murtaza’s assassination in Karachi in 1996.
The 6th death anniversary of Nusrat Bhutto, former chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), wife of former Pakistan prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and mother of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was observed yesterday by Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Peoples Party (Shaheed Bhutto) (PPP-SB) activists. The separate events were held at Bhutto House Naudero and Al-Murtaza House Larkana.
In Naudero, PPP workers offered Fateha Khawani, and free meal was served later.
Party activists later visited Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
Ladies wing office-bearers also participated in the event. Those present at the event included: Khurshid Junejo and Muhammad Ali Bhutto, Sikander Ali Katpar, Fatah Bhutto, Aijaz Leghari, Parveen Qaimkhani, Nasiba Channa, Bashiran Mohil and others.
General Secretary PPP Women Wing Sindh MNA Dr Mehreen Bhutto has said that PPP would fulfill the Polio Free Pakistan’s dream of Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto. In her message on the occasion of World Polio Day Dr Bhutto has further said that Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto began the initiative against Polio and her daughter Aseefa making untiring efforts to complete the mission of her martyred mother.
By Vidya Ram
The former Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S. says the two neighbors must be friends before sorting out disagreements
Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S. Husain Haqqani left that position six years ago amidst controversy over a memo he was accused of orchestrating, urging U.S. help in preventing a military coup in Pakistan following the Abbottabad operation that killed Osama bin Laden. An advocate of civilian government in the country, he’s become a sharp critic of the Pakistani establishment. Mr. Haqqani is based out of the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. Last year, he launched South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), which earlier this month held a conference in London and issued a strongly worded statement condemning the “widening circle of repression” and attempts to mainstream extremist and terrorist organisations in Pakistan. His book, Re-imagining Pakistan, will be published in 2018. In this interview, he speaks about SAATH, Kashmir, and the impact of the recent change to U.S. policy on Afghanistan. Excerpts:
What is the need for SAATH? And what can it achieve?
There are many voices in Pakistan and of Pakistanis living in the diaspora that can only be raised effectively outside Pakistan and we hope that these voices will start having a resonance back home. It is important that the discourse on Pakistan that has been streamlined and subject to specific parameters defined by the Pakistani establishment opens up. That people start asking questions that they are not allowed to ask.
What we are worried about is that a hyper-nationalist discourse is being encouraged in Pakistan in the media and by silencing dissent. At the same time, we already have school textbooks that teach history in a particular way that only creates anger, bitterness, bigotry and hatred. Unfortunately, that process is also taking place in India now — that feeds off each other. The hardliners in India say all Pakistanis are terrorists; the hardliners in Pakistan say all Indians are out to destroy Pakistan. Somebody has to start telling people to talk rationally, and our purpose is to try and rekindle a rational discourse back home. We are not going to possibly affect day-to-day politics but we will affect the battle of ideas.
Not all of us agree on everything. There are people, for example, among the liberal, progressive milieu of Pakistan who take a very hard line on subjects like Balochistan. They talk about independence. And others say what we need to do is reform Pakistan and not change its geography. I think the dialogue should include both for one simple reason: marginalising people does not solve the issue of identity ever. If Catalans can feel like Catalans after three centuries and if the Scots can reassert their identity after a union for almost three centuries, there is no way we can completely suppress Baloch identity. We would rather talk to them and let them say their piece while maintaining our view that it is better to reform Pakistan than to talk about drastic solutions. We really believe in a pluralist Pakistan.
What role do you envisage for other South Asian nations in SAATH?
The region’s problems are interlinked. We hope we can get more Pakistanis on board first because Pakistan is the more difficult member of the South Asian community at the moment. Once we can get enough Pakistanis, then we can start bringing our Afghan, Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Nepali friends as well.
South Asia is the least integrated region in the world. Half of Europe’s trade is within Europe and half of ASEAN’s (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is within ASEAN. In South Asia, intra-regional trade is only 5% of the total trade of the countries in the region, which is abysmal.
What are your thoughts on the road forward for India and Pakistan?
We can’t let the relationship be hostage to dispute. The approach should be ‘let us become friends first and discuss things we disagree about later’, whereas the Pakistani state has taken the position that it wants a resolution of dispute first and get to friendship later. That never works anywhere. Taiwan is considered a renegade province by China but that does not stop China from having $200 billion worth of trade with Taiwan, without conceding the legal status. Now the Chinese are invested in Taiwan and the Taiwanese are invested in China sufficiently enough for neither of them to have any reason to embark on conflict. That is the best model for Pakistan. Germany and France fought many wars including two World Wars. Both sides claimed Alsace-Lorraine, and in the end, they reached the conclusion that resolving this dispute over who this territory belongs to is going to become irrelevant when you are both part of the European Union.
What can India do to break the impasse?
I think the Indian side can really help by constantly signalling to the Pakistani people that India has no conflict with the Pakistani people and make sure that the Pakistani people are no longer fooled by an establishment that no longer describes us as neighbours but as eternal enemies. If they can help change that psyche, then it becomes easier for those of us who advocate normalcy of relations to put more pressure within.
In the end, Pakistan’s status as a semi-authoritarian state determines its policies. It’s a country where even when we have elected governments, they do not have a free hand. We have a diverse media, but we don’t have a free media. Our media is many, many voices saying more or less the same thing. That is a recipe for brainwashing people and the lines are very strictly drawn in Pakistan.
And on Kashmir?
My basic point is that when something is too intractable, the sensible way to deal with it is to not insist on dealing with it before anything else. Then circumstances themselves present a solution. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you have the will to resolve the problem or whether keeping the problem alive is more important to you than finding a solution. Both sides have contributed to the problem and both sides have made it difficult to resolve it, but a better approach might be to not insist on resolving it before we can have normal relations.
How significant was the recent Quadrilateral Coordination Group meeting on Afghan peace of the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Oman?
I’m one of those who believes all talks are good. That said, unless there is flexibility and credibility in negotiations, nothing moves forward. Pakistan has a credibility problem with Afghanistan. We have promised many things that have not been delivered. Deep down the Pakistani deep state is still too suspicious and too bent upon chasing phantoms to reach a reasonable settlement. If Pakistan’s concern is that Afghanistan is going to be used by India against it in the case of war or to foment trouble, there are ways to resolve that. There can be an agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan in relation to what Afghanistan can do in relation to India. But if you in your heart of hearts decide the only good Afghans are the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, then it will be hard to resolve. General (Pervez) Musharraf destroyed Pakistan’s credibility because after 9/11, everybody assumed he’d genuinely taken a U-turn. Now he goes around telling people we did support the Taliban, but we did it for our own national interest. With all due respect, when you do something like that — you say one thing and a few years later you say another — you are creating a huge credibility gap that cannot be easily fixed.
You’ve been an advocate of a tougher U.S. line on Pakistan. What do you make of the changes in Afghan policy and the comments by the U.S. President following the rescue of the Canadian American family?
The lack of trust between the U.S. and Pakistan was not created by a single tweet and it won’t be resolved by a single tweet. It’s a problem that has arisen over many years as a result of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Possibly on both sides. Pakistan has promised to help stabilise Afghanistan since 9/11, yet it has not yet fully clamped down on the Taliban, and the Haqqani network has already been described by former U.S. joint chief Admiral Michael Mullen as a veritable arm of the Pakistan army. It will take time for the Americans to believe Pakistan has turned a corner. On the other hand, Pakistan has a valid point: if the U.S. is going to be a virtual neighbour to Pakistan by having forces in Afghanistan and if it uses Pakistan as a corridor for supplying its troops, it has to listen to Pakistan’s perspective too.
Pakistan’s interlocutors are not always clear with the Americans on what they want. They very easily accept what the Americans are saying because they depend on America so much. It’s my experience that aid clouds Pakistani judgment. And aid clouds American understanding of Pakistani motives because Pakistan ends up over-promising, which creates a trust deficit. So let both sides have a more realistic discussion.
I personally feel that the desire to install a government of Pakistan’s choice in Afghanistan is overly ambitious and unrealistic. The best-case scenario for Pakistan is to come to an understanding with the government of Afghanistan that it won’t in any way let its territory be used against Pakistan, but Pakistan needs to spell out what Indian influence it is bothered by. India has been reasonable by saying ‘we will not put boots on the ground in Afghanistan’, and the other part of it is the fear of what I call intelligence games. There are inconsistencies in Pakistan’s argument on the subject... Pakistan has to explain to the Americans why they have so much fear of India’s alleged presence in Afghanistan when the only person they ever caught never came from Afghanistan.
Will these be the themes of your forthcoming book?
I talk about how Pakistan’s discourse has been constructed around paranoia and an obsession with India. At the end of the day, Pakistan has to build a foreign policy that is not ideological but pragmatic. You can’t have an ideological view that so and so is out to destroy us. Pragmatically you have to say this action harms us — you can’t constantly base it on a view of ill intentions; you have to specifically identify the acts that harm you. And negotiate solutions in which those actions cease.
It’s time for strong voices on Pakistan from Pakistan and from the Pakistani diaspora to point out what it is that needs to change in Pakistan. How it can be a country at peace with itself and its neighbour.
By GARDINER HARRIS
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson stopped in Islamabad on his way to New Delhi on Tuesday to deliver what he hoped would be a sobering message to Pakistan: Stop funding or providing shelter to terrorist groups. Now.
It is a message the United States has been giving the Pakistanis in various forms since the Sept. 11 attacks, and it is one the Pakistanis have by turns harkened to, bristled at and shrugged off — sometimes in the same meeting — for years.
In tackling the deeply dysfunctional relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the Trump administration is finding that it is not unlike some difficult marriages: all but impossible to fix, but also impossible to end.
There were few signs on Tuesday that this 16-year-old dynamic had changed.
Mr. Tillerson met with three of Pakistan’s top leaders at the elegant prime minister’s residence in Islamabad: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi; the foreign minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif; and, most important, the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
At a formal greeting before a portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who is considered the father of Pakistan, Mr. Tillerson began with reassurances. “Pakistan is important, as you know, regionally to the U.S. security relationships and so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for a greater economic relationship as well,” he said.
Mr. Abbasi, wearing a traditional white kurta next to Mr. Tillerson’s dark suit, responded cheerfully but pointedly. “The U.S. can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror,” he said.
The United States believes that Pakistan has for years supported terrorist groups, like the Haqqani network, that attack American troops in Afghanistan, undermining the 16-year effort to defeat the Taliban. But for just as long, the United States has relied on Pakistani air and land routes to supply both American and Afghan forces.
Without Pakistan, the United States would not be able to keep troops in Afghanistan — but it also might not need to, some American observers suggest.
“What do you do when your allies are part of the problem?” asked Daniel L. Byman, a counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University. “The desire to turn our backs on these people is there, but then you worry that terrorists will have more operational freedom and it will cost you more in the long run.”
In public, the Pakistanis say they have killed more terrorists at greater cost in lives lost than any other nation. In private, they say they must hedge their bets against the inevitable day when American troops leave Afghanistan.
In the days leading up to Mr. Tillerson’s visit, the United States conducted a flurry of airstrikes along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fulfilling President Trump’s promise in August to intensify attacks against the Taliban and Haqqani network, which has run a virtual factory in Pakistan since 2005 to supply suicide bombers in Afghanistan.
Local news media outlets reported more than a dozen missile strikes that killed scores of Haqqani fighters. The strikes, many of them in Pakistani territory, are deeply irritating to Pakistan, which considers them a threat to its sovereignty.
Along with the attacks, the Trump administration has toughened its rhetoric. In a speech last week that offered effusive praise for India, Mr. Tillerson warned, “We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based there that threaten its own people and the broader region.”
Senior Pakistani army and intelligence officials expressed confidence in background interviews in recent days that the Trump administration cannot sustain a hostile stance for too long. The Pakistanis are keenly aware that the United States relies on them not only for supplies of material, but also for intelligence.
The Obama administration worked to reduce its reliance on Pakistan in part by reaching a reconciliation with Iran, the only other viable option for supplying troops in Afghanistan. India is building a port in the Iranian city of Chabahar, where supplies could be landed and shipped to Afghanistan.
C. Christine Fair, an associate professor at Georgetown University, argues that Pakistan represents a far greater threat to American interests than Iran does. It was Pakistan that provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Libya, and Pakistan’s proxies have killed more American troops than Iran’s, she said.
But the Trump administration’s hostility toward Iran — Mr. Trump has threatened to tear up the Iran nuclear accord — has closed off such a strategy, so the United States must rely on Pakistan.
“It’s like a woman trying to leave an abusive marriage when she has no money,” Ms. Fair said. “How do you do that?”
Will tougher rhetoric change Pakistani behavior? Experts are skeptical.
“Getting tough on Pakistan, which we’ve tried before, never works,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. “In fact, it has the opposite effect. They just dig in deeper.”