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Home > India > News > PTI > Report

Benazir's niece slams Zardari's 'clean record'

May 19, 2008 17:05 IST

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Slain former premier Benazir Bhutto's [Images] niece Fatima has said that she will continue her struggle against "Asif and a clean record" after her uncle Asif Ali Zardari was acquitted of her father's murder.
"But I am not going to give up this struggle. I am not going to stand down quietly. This is bigger than us, this is about justice. I will continue to do all I can to stand between Asif and a clean record," said Fatima in an interview published in The Sunday Times, London [Images], on Sunday.
Zardari, chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was acquitted by the Sindh high court on April 9, 2008 of involvement in the murder of Murtaza Bhutto, brother of his slain wife, Benazir Bhutto.
"In Pakistan we live with this historical amnesia... such are the difficulties of the present that there is a strong urge to forget those of the past. But there are those of us who are not willing to forget," Fatima said.
With Pakistan People's Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari becoming the "biggest power in the land", Fatima Bhutto says she is "very afraid" for Pakistan.

"Well, I am certainly very afraid for this country," said Fatima  when asked if she was afraid for her own safety.
"After all, this man knows no limits. He has a record. He has, as they say, form. And he is now clearly indulging in the politics of revenge and retribution. It's nothing new, it's how he has always been," Fatima said. "But what can you do? You just have to carry on as you can, and try to tell the truth as you see it. That's all you can do," she added.    

Fatima's father Murtaza Bhutto was shot dead in 1996 and she holds her late aunt Benazir and her husband Zardari responsible for the murder.

"Even before Zardari, this was a country where anything can happen, a country that regularly disappears its own people. The state here is, in the worst way, expedient. You just don't know what's waiting for you, especially if you stand up and say what you think," she said.
"When Benazir was in exile aged about 25, she was very brave and very sad. She had lost her father and brother and was in pain and fragile and vulnerable. But later, once she was in power, she changed. She became very far from fragile. In power she was unrecognisable from the figure I loved as a child," said Fatima as she explained the 'two Benazirs' she knew.

Fatima, who was very critical of her aunt, said when she heard about Benazir's death "it was too familiar".

She said she went to the funeral with her mother Ghinwa but no words were exchanged with Zardari. "I was looking at him, but he didn't look back or even acknowledge our presence."

"Of course, I was angry at what Benazir did to my father...but mainly because I expected more. I do feel sad that the idealistic Benazir I knew as a child had turned into a person so tragically mired in corruption and compromise. The person who was killed was a completely different person to the one I loved," Fatima said

"I cried when I heard the news of her death. She was shot in the neck, just like my father. Only one of my father's four siblings is alive now, (the rest) all killed in these terrible ways," Fatima said.

Asked if she was considering entering politics, Fatima said, "I am political, but I don't think becoming an MP and sitting in Islamabad is necessarily the best way to influence people here. A writer has other options."

"There is much to be done. Power in Pakistan never changes hands it's only the victims who change. The people of this country are so dispossessed they have no access to justice or basic necessities. There is so much corruption. We have to teach the people to stand together and protect themselves." she said.

"For now I want to be a writer. But if in the future there was a way I could serve my country that did not involve becoming yet another part of dynastic birthright politics, maybe I could envisage putting my name forward. If I stood I would want it to be on my own merits, not as a member of a dynasty," Fatima said.

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