Sindh mourns as Begum Bhutto passes away at 82

Published: October 24, 2011
Fatima Bhutto mourns her grand mother’s death.

Fatima Bhutto mourns her grand mother’s death.

Public holiday to be observed across the province on Monday. Fatima Bhutto mourns her grand mother’s death. PPP-SB activists lay flowers at Nusrat Bhutto’s portrait at her house at 70 Clifton. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

Security around the 70 Clifton residence of Begum Nusrat Bhutto was tight on Sunday. Her photo stood at the end of a long drawing room, propped up on a chair next to a Pakistan Peoples Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB) flag. At the entrance, a black flag marked the start of mourning.

The woman affectionately known as ‘Begum Bhutto’ became the first of Zulfikar Bhutto’s immediate family to pass away of natural causes. As the news spread, mourners gathered at the house to pay homage to the former first lady of Pakistan – the same residence that had been besieged by soldiers 30 years ago to make sure she would not escape.

“Begum Bhutto hid herself in the trunk of a car,” recalled Azhar Jameel, a Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) activist from the 1980s. “She was a woman with a strong will. There was no stopping her.”

Nusrat Bhutto launched the movement in 1981 against the military regime of General Ziaul Haq whose strategy was to suppress the opposition using force.

Regarded as a woman with a dynamic personality, Nusrat is credited with singlehandedly bringing political parties from the right and left of the ideological divide together. “That was her special quality. She had a way of bringing different groups together.”

When the movement gained strength, and the authorities became wary of her and tried to stop her, she had to conceal her identity. “I remember how she slipped unnoticed to Lahore in a train wearing burqa,” he reminisces, speaking to The Express Tribune over the phone.

The mood at her home, now the PPP-SB head office, was sombre with a hint of resentment. The family felt sidelined as the Bilawal House has taken over all funeral preparations.

Sikandar Ali Bhutto, a former PPP-SB Saddar Town president, chose to loudly vent his frustration at President Asif Ali Zardari and his proposed funeral arrangements. “No one is talking to us,” he shouted. “This is the place from where she left for Dubai and this is where her body should be brought.”

“The Bhutto’s home is empty now,” sobbed granddaughter and Benzair Bhutto’s estranged niece, Fatima Bhutto, “we were not even informed of her death.”

Inside the large house, Seema Rafiq, a PPP-SB activist, wept uncontrollably. “She treated us like her own kids. Her whole family was wiped out and now she is no more either.”

The mother who lost three of four children to violent deaths will also be remembered for the way she carried herself – with confidence and grace.

Dr Humaira Aziz, a friend of Benazir, remembers being awestruck by her friend’s mother. “I used to get so excited when I saw the things she used to wear, with so much elegance.”

Yet, with all that poise and glamour, Nusrat was a natural person. “She was a simple lady who was also really brave,” muses Aziz. “I was at their house every day in my younger days and she would come, sit and dine with us. I don’t know why, but that’s the time I remember the most clearly.”

However, Nusrat suffered  of mental torment after her son Murtaza passed away. “Even though the loss of Shahnawaz was a major blow, the death of Murtaza broke her completely.”

In a condolence message, Meraj Muhammad Khan, a founding PPP member, said that Nusrat played a major role in creation of the PPP. “She contributed even more for the restoration of democracy. Pakistan has lost another brave lady.”

Sukkur and Garhi Khudda Bux mourn

Business centres and public places in most of upper Sindh, including Larkana, Jacobabad, Thul and Ratodero were shut down immediately after the news of Nusrat Bhutto’s death spread like wildfire. Sources claim that some stores were forced to shut down by aerial firing. They pointed out Sindh Local Bodies Minister Agha Siraj Durrani had reached Garhi Khuda Bux and would be making arrangements for the funeral.

Hundreds of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and PPP-SB supporters have started to make their way towards Naudero Presidency and Al Murtaza House. The PPP-SB chairperson Ghinwa Bhutto is said to reach Al Murtaza House today. While talking to The Express Tribune, DCO Larkana Abdul Aleem Lashari, who was in Garhi Khuda Bux, said that a grave was being dug on the left side of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s grave. Sources claim that Nusrat Bhutto’s body would most probably be flown directly to Moen Jo Daro Airport and then taken to Garhi Khuda Bux for the funeral. Heavy contingents of policemen and Rangers have been deployed in Larkana, Naudero and Garhi Khuda Bux.

With additional reporting by Sarfaraz Memon and PPI

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Zardari
    Oct 24, 2011 - 10:29AM

    Please be patience!!!


  • nasim ahmed
    Oct 24, 2011 - 11:32AM

    No doubt she was a great leader and a sober lady,Pakistan lost yet another fighter.Burial should have been done by mir murtazas family.


  • mehwish
    Oct 24, 2011 - 11:51AM

    She was indeed a very brave lady i always got inspired by her courage.May her soul rest in peace.


  • bilal
    Oct 24, 2011 - 12:32PM

    she was a amazing brave lady !! may ALLAH grant her heaven-ameen ,and its true sindh is mourning as im a sindhi .60% of sindh is sindhi.burial should also be done by murtazas family :(
    !! the whole family is destroyed !! now the party goes to the zardari family !!


  • Oct 24, 2011 - 1:09PM

    @bilal: The daughter Sanam Bhutto is alive.


  • Fahad
    Oct 24, 2011 - 1:19PM

    But why holiday and make country and people pay.


  • wahaj
    Oct 24, 2011 - 1:39PM

    I have doubt on “the first of Zulfikar Bhutto’s immediate family to pass away of natural causes”


  • X Variable
    Oct 24, 2011 - 1:55PM

    At Bilal “60% of sindh is sindhi.”

    Atleast at this time forget such idiotic quotes. If she was a great leader(I dont have much info about her being great but if you do claim), the loss is of Pakistan not Sindh!

    Against provincial idiots!


  • Ayesha
    Oct 24, 2011 - 1:59PM

    Most definitely the burial rights lie with the Bhutto family and not Zardari.

    I did not know much about her before but what i have read of her in the last few days has painted her as a very brave figure in my eyes.

    May she rest in peace.


  • bilal
    Oct 24, 2011 - 2:45PM

    @naveeda but she is not that much of a importance ,as she never comes on tv !


  • Ali
    Oct 24, 2011 - 3:02PM

    Not only Sindh but all of Pakistan is mourning for this brave and courageous lady, may Allah grant her a place in paradise – Ameen


  • Asad
    Oct 24, 2011 - 4:22PM

    She does resemble Begum Nusrat Bhutto more as she gets older. Nusrat Bhutto was an important personality for Pakistan.Recommend

  • shaheen khan
    Oct 24, 2011 - 4:42PM

    @bilal, such an insensitive remark. sanam bhutto z nusrat bhutto’s last surviving child. i cant even comprehend what she wld be going thru right now after losing all her family members.its her right 2 decide where her mummy z 2 be buried..ghinwa shld set aside her differences and attend the burial. its not an occassion 2 politicise the burial of a mother.i strongly feel that a son-in-law z as much a part of the famil;y as a daughter-in-law. get out of this feudalistic approach. RIP,nusrat bhutto.


  • Mr.Farhan @xpert
    Oct 24, 2011 - 6:41PM

    I’m Very Sad That Nusrat Bhutto Has Death .But Fatima Bhutto & Ghinwa Bhutto Is Right On Their Place. & Sir Zardari Has Not Done Right He Should Take The Death Body at there Home.This is not fair & i’m don’t agree 4 sir zardari,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,:-


  • Mumtaz RIzvi
    Oct 24, 2011 - 9:09PM

    Dear Fatima, please accept my heartly condolence on the sad demise of your Grand Mother. she will always be remembered. you get a grip on your self. you are the future of Pakistan.


  • The Truth
    Oct 24, 2011 - 9:52PM

    People in Pakistan, politicians especially, need to learn the basic economic principles of supply and demand. The notion of a National Holiday fits right into that. There is no doubt that as a first lady she deserves a certain degree of decorum. And if the shop keepers want to close as a sign of solidarity or for whatever unrelated reason they choose, that should be their decision to make. The idea of a national holiday for her is somewhat suspect in my books. That is in no way meant to disrespect her or her contributions to the party or the country, its just reality and accountability. Like wise on an unrelated note, instead of imposing another day of weekend, the Government should simply raise electricity prices on the commercial sector. A business owner can then decide if it cost effective for him to stay open, close or raise his prices and pass them along to the consumer. Higher prices at some stores will drive consumers to other stores. Store owners will adjust accordingly. Subsidies, imposed holidays, and the sense of entitlement are killing Pakistan.

    the Truth Hurts


  • Oct 26, 2011 - 6:51PM

    Begum Nusrat Bhutto was a great lady of all times. She was a beacon light for the women of Pakistan. With unmatchable qualities, the legacy which she left behind will show the path to uncounted and lonely women in the country who are fighting for their rights. May Al-Mighty Allah rest her soul in eternal peace and give solace to the bereaved family members, friends and party workers. Begum Nusrat Bhutto was a heroine as a wife, mother, and politician with an impeccable record. She lived and died fighting with the cancers plaguing Pakistan. She is a beacon of light for the fighters for human rights and democracy for the whole world and set an example with her life and her death. God bless her soul.


  • Shakeel Ahmad
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:04PM

    Once I read a sentence, ‘Great people have to suffer great tragedies’. This is true of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. She saw a great time during first half of her life. Every women could be envious of her, then.
    But after that, her bad time started and she lost her dear ones, one by one, in nu-natural incidents.
    I do not think that any women can be jealous of her, now, but only sympathize with her. Some say, that her dead body should be handed over to Ghinwa, whom she never liked as her daughter in law. Asif Zardari was her own choice for Benazir Bhutto. But she is passed away now and it does not make any difference to her soul by whom has, she, been buried.Recommend

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