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Interview with Fatima Bhutto

Aired April 27, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Born into Pakistan's most famous dynasty, Fatima Bhutto's life has always been under scrutiny. But that hasn't stopped her from being an outspoken political journalist and commentator.

As the granddaughter of Zulfikar Bhutto, the founder of the Pakistani People's Party, Fatima's personality and background led many Pakistanis to see her as a future party leader. But she's had issues with other family members. She was highly critical of her aunt, Benazir, before her assassination in 2007, accusing her of corruption and trying to hijack democracy.

In her new memoir, "Songs of Blood and Sword," Bhutto describes what it's like to be part of the influential yet tragic Bhutto clan. From political heiress to independent scribe, Fatima Bhutto is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Well, Fatima cuts a clever and oft times controversial figure.

When I caught up with her here in London a little earlier today, I began by asking her why she gave her book -- her new book the title, "Songs of Blood and Sword".

This is what she said.


FATIMA BHUTTO, AUTHOR, "SONGS OF BLOOD AND SWORD": Well, the title comes from a -- an Iranian poet who I've always followed and admired who was executed by the shah's regime for his criticisms of the state and the violence of the state. And there is a lot of blood in Pakistan. And there is a lot of blood in -- in this family.

Zulfikar Ali, my grandfather's name, means the sword of Ali. So I thought there were some interesting parallels there.

ANDERSON: Some questions from the viewers. Judith from the Netherlands says: "Do politics inspire your work and writing? And if so, is your writing the way you contribute to your political family?"

BHUTTO: Yes. I think writing is the way I contribute to politics rather than to my family. But I think it's people that inspire me to write because politics is always going to be violent and corrupt and -- and dirty, I think, no matter where we're looking at it. But how people survive it and how people live through it is what I find interesting.

ANDERSON: The politics of your family, of course, extremely violent.

BHUTTO: Yes. Extremely.

ANDERSON: Just explain.

BHUTTO: Well, my grandfather was executed in 1979 by a military regime. His youngest son, Shahnawaz, was killed six years later in mysterious circumstances that has never been solved. My father was killed outside our home in 1996. And Benazir, the most public and most famous member of the family, was killed in 2007.

ANDERSON: You're still seeking justice for the murder of your dad.

What are you doing to that end?

BHUTTO: Well, we've been fighting in the courts for the last 14 years in Pakistan. And -- and all the courts have done is -- is delay the process of justice. They've acquitted all the policemen involved in the case and basically told us that nobody killed my father and six of his associates. So we're appealing. We continue to seek justice through the courts. But, also, through memory, through protest. And -- and I think that's what "Songs of Blood and Sword" is, in fact.

ANDERSON: Your father was a political rival of your aunt Benazir. She was, of course, assassinated in 2007.

Was the recent investigation by the U.N. sufficient, do you think?

BHUTTO: I don't see how the U.N. investigation could be sufficient without a forensic science crime scene, which was washed up in the aftermath of Benazir's killing. There was no autopsy conducted and -- and her body was not exhumed. So how the U.N. feels able to tell us anything about how she was killed is surprising to me.

ANDERSON: Khaled Anwar from Pakistan says: "You've got the talent and courage of the Bhuttos and you're the real torch bearer of the family." What's your response to this. He says: "Do you consider stepping into a more prominent political role?"

BHUTTO: Oh, I think I'm prominent enough. I wouldn't want to get more prominent.

ANDERSON: Not everybody agrees with your views in the family.

Let's be honest, huh?

BHUTTO: Oh, let's be honest, in the country, let's also say. You know, I think to speak out the way I do against the corruption of the state and the violence of the state, you need total freedom. And joining politics would -- would take away that freedom. You become indebted and obliged and embedded in a certain way.

ANDERSON: Keira from New York says: "What is then" -- if you don't want to be a politician, necessarily -- "what is your vision for the future of Pakistan?"

BHUTTO: Well, that's a very big question. You know, Pakistan is only 63 years young this year. But I hope, at least, as a young Pakistani, that we cannot only bring about transparency and accountability into a country that has been plagued by corruption and political incompetence, but also, in the truest sense of the word, a participatory democracy, where your name doesn't matter, where people represent areas they live in.

So more than just a representative democracy, but -- but a truly participatory one and one where women and -- and minorities are -- are -- are safe, are protected by the law, which is currently not the case.

ANDERSON: Ryan has written in. He asks how you overcame the hard times that your family saw, what you saw. And I -- I guess that begs the question of how difficult was it to write the book.

BHUTTO: Well, I'm very lucky to have a very loving mother and two brothers. And it was really that source of support and -- and love, really, that I think saw us all through very difficult times.

Getting through the book was a different story because it involves digging into a family that was very difficult and digging into things that have happened to the family that have been and still are shrouded. Had to play private investigator a lot of the time and trace people around the globe.

But it -- it needed to be done, I think, with our memories being as short as they are, not just in Pakistan, but around the world. And our countries being as silent as they are, there is a great imposition of silence in South Asia, not just Pakistan, again, but Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal. And to combat that silence is difficult, but I think it has to be done.


ANDERSON: Amazing stuff.

Fatima Bhutto, your Connector of the Day.

And our next Connector also has a colorful and famous family history. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson's royal title, is just one that she wears these days. Fergie, as she is affectionately known, of course, has also become a champion of many causes, from the underprivileged to the overweight.

If there is something that you would like to ask Fergie, you can send us your questions. Remember, tell us where you're writing in from. She is our Connector of the Day tomorrow. Head to to get involved. This is your part of the show.