Goodbye Shahzadi (A Political Biography of Benazir Bhutto) (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: IDK422
Author: Shyam Bhatia
Publisher: Roli Books Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788174366580
Pages: 144 (14 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
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Book Description
From the Jacket

Few journalists are intimate witnesses to a career from political cradle to grave. Shyam Bhatia was on first name terms alongside Benazir every step of the way and his book is a revelation. A relationship that began among the dreaming spires of Oxford continued across the world from Pimlico to Pakistan. Along the way she told Bhatia things that she told no other journalist-history-making details that make this book a must-read for anyone who is a serious student of the politics of West Asia and of the front line state that she led as the first women prime minister of a Muslim country. We see unprecedented detail of one of the most significant deals of this or any other century-how North Korea gained access to the technology which gave it the capability to develop nuclear weaponry. There are insights into Benazir's relationship with the military and politicians in her own country, and what impact she had on their opposite numbers in India. This is Benazir as you have never seen her before-off guard, relaxed, open and honest. The woman who embraced both the sports car and the chador, who might have done so much for her country.

David Watts.
Associate Editor, Asian Affairs

Goodbye Shahzadi is an exclusive and highly charged account of the life and times of one of the world's most fascinating political leaders, Benazir Bhutto. Drawing on his personal notes and tape-recorded interviews. Shyam Bhatia presents the assassinated leaders' innermost thoughts as well as never-before-revealed secrets about Pakistan's nuclear and missile programmes.

About the Author

Shyam Bhatia Editor of Asian Affairs magazine, has been a staff foreign correspondent for London's Observer newspaper based in Cairo and Jerusalem, and US correspondent and Foreign Editor of the Deccan Herald. A frequent visitor in the past to Pakistan and an Arabic speaker, he has won the Foreign Reporter of the Year Award in the British media and is the author of India's Nuclear Bomb, Nuclear Rivals in the Middle East, Brighter than the Baghdad Sun and Contemporary Afghanistan.

Bhatia and Benazir first met at Oxford where he refused to support her campaign to obtain an honorary degree for her father and then Pakistan prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A bitter fight over the issue of the honorary degree later gave way to an enduring friendship, supplemented by regular heart-to-heart talks and interviews in London and Dubai. Some details of what Benazir told Bhatia about her family and about Pakistan's defence and foreign policies remained confidential during her lifetime and are revealed for the first time in this book.

Author's Note

Interviewed Benazir Bhutto on Innumerable Occasions, More Often Indeed than any Other politician I have ever known. The reason was simple. We met in Oxford and remained in touch thereafter.

Until I met Benazir, Pakistan for me conjured images of mad mullahs, forced conversions and oppressed women backed up by a theology of hate that refused to accept anyone belonging to a different value system. Benazir was poles removed from this mental picture. She did not speak of religion unless specifically asked, did not wear a veil, was certainly not oppressed, and, above all, was prepared to engage in open debate among equals, male or female, on any conceivable issue.

Cynic might argue that my distaste for jihadi culture meant that I was far too accepting of someone like Benazir, gratefully seizing upon her apparently liberal outlook at face value and overlooking any flaws of character, such as an inbuilt opportunism. In retrospect, such a judgement seems less than fair. Like so many of us at the time, Benazir was more a free-thinking student than a two-faced politician. Insofar as she had any plans for the future, they had to do with her desire to join her country's diplomatic service.

When we got to know each other better, she would theorize that the Bhuttos, Bhatias, and Bhattis were all part of the same Rajput family tree that had its roots in southern Afghanistan. Over the centuries, branches of this vast extended family moved eastwards, she believed, modifying their clan name and their religious persuasion in keeping with the local circumstances in which they found themselves. If that was true, our common Rajput ancestry gave us something in common, as did the time we spent at Oxford. Our family circumstances were however very different. My father was a journalist who strayed into the Indian Foreign Service and back again into journalism. His journalism gave him access to all manner of people from all walks of life, including Benazir's father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

I still recall the story my father related of meeting and interviewing Zulfikar for the Indian Express in the early 1960s. The interview was in Calcutta and my father was accompanied by the Indian Express cartoonist who proceeded to hastily sketch Zulfikar, then the foreign minister of Pakistan. Asked by the nervous cartoonist if he would autograph his work, Zulfikar, who was balding, looked at the cartoon and commented, 'I've got more hair around my private parts than he's given me at the top of my head.'

The Bhuttos were wealthy feudal landlords from Sindh, not dissimilar to old fashioned English squires who lived off the land and the rents of their tenants. Zulfikar, later tried and executed for a murder he protested he never ordered, was the first casualty in a dynasty of death that would go on, before their time, to claim the lives of his older daughter and two sons. When Zulfikar died, his widow and children inherited at least 12,000 acres of land in Larkana, about an hour's flying time from Karachi.

What set Benazir apart from many of her Pakistani contemporaries was a self-evidently progressive outlook that found expression in a book she wrote only months before she was assassinated. The vast majority of the billion Muslims in the world embrace a peaceful, tolerant, open, rational, and loving religion,' wrote Benazir. This is the interpretation of Islam that my father…and mother…taught my brothers…my sister…and me.' Some of Benazir's critics have questioned the sincerity of these apparently liberal convictions; in her own defence she argued that she had changed and matured with the passage of time.

Flitting between Oxford and London, where the Pakistani High commissioner had invited her to treat his residence as a second home, she was extremely glamorous and brought a zing of excitement to our day-to-day lives as university students. It did not seem obvious at the time, but now, looking back, Benazir seemed to be almost bubble-wrapped in a kind of all-encompassing innocence and that added to her appeal.

Our last contact was in October 2007, just before she went back home after a decade of exile to take part in national elections planned for early 2008. The setting was a crowded press conference in London where we just managed to exchange a few words. She was looking much older than I remembered, and jowly. There was no sparkle to her voice, or her face. Why are you going back, I asked in bewilderment? She muttered something about it being too late to back out. How about an interview? I continued. Send me the questions, she replied, and I will get back to you. I didn't follow up my request, but to my surprise a few weeks later I had a phone call from Pakistan with a familiar voice asking, 'So where are the questions? I had no alternative but to respond, and the result was one of the last interviews she gave before she was shot dead in front of her adoring supporters.

Some of the students who were at Oxford in 1972-75, including Indians and Pakistanis, stood out because they were from famous families, although a few but not all them would go on to make a name for themselves in their own right. They included a young English aristocrat at Christ Church, Benazir's brother's college, who had neither the intellect nor the application to be admitted to such a world-renowned university. Rumour had it that he was accepted because his college or university libraries, in exchange for his son's guaranteed admission.

Then there were the Americans, usually supported by extremely generous grants, who always seemed to come across as the most gifted and hard-working members of the student body. They included Peter Galbraith, son of the American economist and former US ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, who had been friendly with Benazir during her earlier Harvard years. He would play a vital role in later years in freeing her from the clutches of the Pakistani military.

Among those from South Asia, many, whether they knew it or not at the time, destined for greater things. Imran Khan became a world-class cricketer, Vikram Seth, who would bob up unexpectedly on the narrow winding streets that linked the colleges of Oxford, would develop into a writer of international renown. Benazir was different. She arrived as a ready-made celebrity because she was the daughter of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leader of an important country that was in the process of rebuilding itself after the 1971 war with India and the loss of its eastern wing that emerged as the independent state of Bangladesh.

The war had led to the loss of thousands of innocent lives, and millions of refugees. When we first met, Indian and Pakistani, reading for our respective degrees on the same English university campus, Benazir and I were soon at daggers drawn. We could not agree whether or not her father was responsible for the war and whether, in the wake of such a disastrous conflict, he should be awarded an honorary degree at Oxford.

To her abiding credit, Benazir did not allow our subsequent dealings to be permanently affected by my negative views about her father; for my part, I sent a letter of condolence to her in Pakistan after Zulfikar was executed and then made the effort to call on her in London. I also took the time to call on her in London after her younger brother, Shahnawaz, was killed by poisoning in Cannes. After she was toppled from office in 1996 we met more regularly, sometimes two or three times a year, in London or Dubai. She always inquired after my wife, whom she had met, and our two children who were in the same age bracket as her own. Our conversations occasionally degenerated into bracket as her own. Our conversations occasionally degenerated into farce because of her fondness for mimicking the political leaders she and I knew in common. Benazir was also curious about war reporting and my life experiences as a Cairo-and Jerusalem-based journalist, repeatedly asking what it was like to live among the Jews in Israel. In 1995 she sent a message to me in Jerusalem to say that she was thinking of visiting Gaza and inquiring whether I would be around. That visit never materialized, but Benazir ensured that she was always up to date about the historic Middle East conflict dividing Jews and Arabs.

In 2003 and 2004 she agreed to a series of searingly honest interviews on the record with me about herself, her family, and he political life. At the time I did publish some, but not all the material from the tapes of those interviews. Some tapes containing much of the unpublished material, including her revelations about Pakistan's nuclear programme, remained locked away in my filing cabinet. They only came to light by chance soon after she was assassinated when I was scouring through my personal papers in search of some other documents. I realized then that the tapes contained exclusive information about contemporary issues that had never before been revealed.

I also got to know her brother Murtaza at Oxford. A year younger than Benazir, he and I shared the same academic supervisor in our postgraduate research about the history of the nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan. Some years later, when I encountered Murtaza in exile in Damascus, he told me with some bitterness that it was he who had been designated as the political heir of their father Zulfikar. As evidence, Murtaza told me how it was he and not Benazir who had been asked to manage their father's Larkana constituency during the 1977 General Election. This was a conviction shared by at least one senior member of Zulfikar's who had been asked to manage their father's Larkana constituency during the 1977 General Election. This was a conviction shared by at least one senior member of Zulfikar's staff, Yusuf Buch, who told his friend and fellow staffer Khalid Hasan that the prime minister would rather his daughter was spared the rough and tumble of politics, preferring that she join Pakistan's Foreign Service.

It was a point of view vigorously disputed by Benazir during her lifetime, claiming that her father had always wanted her to enter politics. She was, however, wrong on one count when she cited as evidence her father's decision to deliberately include her in the delegation that went to the famous India-Pakistan summit in Shimla in 1972. There was nothing deliberate about that decision. Zulfikar had originally intended to take his wife Nusrat to that summit, but she fell ill and Benazir was a hurried, last minute choice to fill in for her mother. Now that Benazir and Murtaza are both dead, the baton has been passed on to their respective sets of children. Pakistan's future could well be affected by how this next generation of Bhuttos manage their competing interests. Benazir, Murtaza, Shahnawaz, and their father cannot expect to rest easy in the family graveyard in Larkana.

Back of the Book

Benazir Bhutto and Shyam Bhatia were at Oxford together and remained close friends until she was assassinated in Pakistan last year. Over the years Bhatia recorded a series of interviews with Benazir in which she talked with amazing frankness about her life, her family, her ambitions and her plans. Some of her revelations were so personal and sensitive that she made Bhatia promise to keep them secret during her lifetime. Now he is free to tell the story of a powerful yet tragic woman whose loyalty to her dynasty cost her life. Bhatia's book casts new light on such crucial matters as Pakistan's race to build an atom-bomb and Benazir's own undercover role in fooling the world over this. It is a timely. Revealing, sympathetic and important book about a remarkable woman.

-Philip Knightley

Shyam Bhatia's revealing portrait of Benazir Bhutto is readable, first-rate reportage, by far the best book so far written on Bhutto, her marriage and her family. Based on a 34-year friendship dating back to student days, it is up close and personal in its style and filled with hitherto-undisclosed bombshells on a wife range of topics ranging from Pakistan's relations with North Korea and India to the corruption charges that still swirl around her husband, Asif Zardari. Must reading for all those interested in South Asia.

-Selig Harrison

Graciously written with some astonishing revelations based on a friendship spanning more than 30 years. A riveting read for the specialist and layman alike.

-Kuldip Nayar


Author's Noteix
1The Shahzadi Arrives1
2Her Father's Daughter11
3The Marriage Business28
4A Startling Revelation38
5The American Connection44
6The India Link58
7The Nuclear Game67
8Dealing with the Generals80
9The Years in Power89
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