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Where is the Disney version of Taj Mahal?

January 16, 2009 14:44 IST

In her latest salvo against slain former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, Fatima Bhutto has accused her aunt of converting the sombre resting place of the Bhuttos in Sindh province into a revolting "Disney version of Taj Mahal [Images]".

"Wooden pillars, carved with lattice designs, marked the absence of the four walls that would have enclosed the open-air burial site. It was a sombre resting place: four corners of Sindh lay open around you, and the dusty smell of the air in Garhi Khuda Bux's desert climate surrounded mourners who came to mark death anniversaries and birthdays," Bhutto wrote in Pakistan Observer newspaper.

'It's all gone now. It was torn down by the last member of the family to be buried there, Benazir Bhutto [Images], and rebuilt as a mausoleum. In a country where politics has always orbited around personalities, she was determined that hers would be the largest and the grandest. Benazir rebuilt the old family mazaar in the manner of an Aladdin-style castle."

"The structure has a domed roof, four minaret-like points facing in different directions, a grand driveway so that no one need bother to walk, and elaborate staircases which lead nowhere. It's revolting. It looks like the Disney version of the Taj Mahal," she wrote in a piece titled "Pilgrimage to nowhere".

Fatima lamented that outside the mausoleum there are juice sellers, men with portable pakora kiosks and popcorn machines, stalls selling pictures of all the dead Bhuttos and more stalls selling posters and tapes of the dead Bhuttos' speeches.

"It's macabre, but this is the shrine that Benazir built for herself; this is the afterbirth of her death. There is no space for the sacred, there is no space for grief, only space for advertising and political grandstanding of 'Look whom I'm related to'-type posters, 'Vote for my children, they're next!' warnings, and so on," she wrote.

"One year after Benazir's assassination, this is what her legacy has come down to. And it is fitting that in her death, like in her life, there is no talk of principles or ideology, only of personality and genealogy," she wrote.

Fatima accused Pakistan of allowing "Americans to come and kill our citizens" while issuing "bombastic and seemingly harsh statements to counter the threat of a possible Indian air strike following the fallout of the Mumbai [Images] massacres". "It's nice to be distracted from an actual daily death toll, after all Pakistanis have bigger problems to contend with, bigger causes to grieve for than Benazir Bhutto. And yet, a year on from her death, we are still at the mercy of our ghosts," she said.




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