Fatima Bhutto - how to borrow fame

Fatima Bhutto, a Pakistani writer is grabbing all the headlines with her new book Songs of Blood and Sword. It is an interesting read because the book glorifies a known terrorist. But, the media is not going gaga over her because of her book. It is her family heritage that is generating the hype. She asks to be seen as an individual separate from her illustrious family, but really she is just using that as a ruse to use her family history to sell more books.


The brightest spark of Pakistani Journalism, Fatima Bhutto is rustling more than a few feathers World Wide. Her latest book, Songs of Blood and Sword has become a bestseller and possibly one of the most criticized book in modern history. But is her fame really her creation or just borrowed from an illustrious lineage?

She is heir to the name of Pakistan’s bejeweled politicos, the Bhutto family. This family has contributed two enigmatic Prime Ministers, and a history that is as riddled with turmoil as it is with accomplishments.  In her late 20’s, this charming lady has spent a lifetime escaping the shadow of her gargantuan family tree. Alas she finds, nay, she knows that her very existence is tethered to the very tree she fights.


Fatima Bhutto is the daughter of Murtaza Bhutto. Murtaza was the son of executed Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and younger brother to the assassinated Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Murtaza Bhutto himself was killed in 1996 in a face-off with local police. Fatima’s book (her third) is about her slain father. Her first book, a collection of poems also hovered around the life of her father and the general injustice handed to her family.

Songs of Blood and Sword (her third book while just aged 27) is a 450 page daughter’s memoir which glorifies her father. It is pertinent to mention here that Murtaza Bhutto at one point had hijacked a plane and was the serving head of a militant anti-government organization called the Al-Zulfiqar in Pakistan. Her reception all over the world has been tremendous as the book is flying off the non-fiction shelves. The problem is that in a television interview she admits that part of the book is conjecture.


In interviews, the tone she adopts is one who is tired of her history. She loathes to be compared to her late aunt, Benazir Bhutto. Incidentally Benazir is the very person she blames for her father’s murder.  The fact remains that her claim to fame has been via the very family that she hates.

She constantly lingers on the edge of politics. Becoming increasingly vocal during the previous elections in which her aunt was campaigning, and ultimately lost her life. Since then, Fatima’s outbursts have centered on the head of the Pakistan People’s Party, and the widower of Benazir Bhutto, President Asif Ali Zardari.

If she were any other person, Fatima probably would not be paid any attention or quickly made to disappear. There are other, better writers from Pakistan who have managed to get international literary awards, like Kamila Shamsie, Muhammad Hanif, and Bapsi Sidhwa, but none were invited by Stephen Sackur, or Sir David Frost, or had Indian politicians lining up outside the gates for a book signing. The only reason she has had made any sort of news for her cover-up book is that she is a Bhutto. As she attacks her cousins for adopting their maternal title and using its resonance as political leverage, she herself is guilty of the same charge, using the very family name to garner publicity which she begs to distance herself from.

Politics is not her aim she states, yet her few articles appearing here and there (her botched claim to journalism) hover around the politics of the country, party, Bhutto family or all three together in some form or manner.

Anyone would try and use all resources available to promote their book. However, Fatima definitely cannot ask to distance herself from the Bhutto clan when she rides the same horse to stardom. The fact is that her book does not carry the name Fatima, but the name Bhutto, and she exploits it willfully.

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