Done in by Bhutto

Published: December 4, 2013
Email
The writer is a sub-editor for the Editorial pages of The Express Tribune 
faiza.rahman@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a sub-editor for the Editorial pages of The Express Tribune faiza.rahman@tribune.com.pk

In interviews published in The Express Tribune and the London Evening Standard, the ever-discerning Fatima Bhutto discussed the plot for her upcoming book. Indeed, she has amazed us all by the novelty of choosing ‘Waziristan’ as its setting. In her novel, Miss Bhutto will share her insights on the hitherto unknown sufferings and struggles of the people in that unfortunate location. Needless to say, the manuscript will be excitedly devoured by a readership that has not so much as glanced at local newspapers for two years in a row at the very least. Moreover, that Miss Bhutto features prominently on the contact lists of the global literati and keeps abreast with the latest trends in English literature is glaringly obvious through the refreshing originality of the story’s chosen setting. You may now stifle your yawns.

We, the toiling, whimpering and suffering people of this country — complete with our impaired nerves and all — wish to thank her for soliciting the world’s attention to ‘Waziristan’s’ and the rest of Pakistan’s sorry state. Her kind efforts are late by only over a dozen documentaries, 10 dozen news reports and thousands of minutes of prime time television.

Now you will know, dear reader, if you have, unlike Miss Bhutto’s all-knowing readership, breezed through a local newspaper now and then, that ‘Waziristan’ is divided into the ‘North’ and ‘South’ agencies, whose current on-ground crises are enormously different. You will probably understand that anyone writing any prose on the area should make it amply clear as to which parcel of the territory is being discussed. South Waziristan is in a sort of cliff-hanger situation, with a heavy contingent of troops buffering off a blood-baying enemy which still seems to enjoy some presence there. As far as North Waziristan is concerned, once in every three or four weeks, reports of a drone missile and blast casualties from the agency compete fiercely for front-page space with even the most chilling of stories from other parts of Pakistan.

But Miss Bhutto knows better. Tapping on to her marvelous literary acumen, she has decided to choose ‘Waziristan’ as her story’s setting because “unlike Peshawar, Bajaur or Bannu”, ‘Waziristan’ (deciphering whether she means North or South is a task bequeathed unto you) is devoid of “too many prejudices such as the Taliban and drones”. Did you hear that, reader? All of ‘Waziristan’ is now free of drone strikes and the Taliban! Thank you for opening our eyes, Miss Bhutto! That easily makes for tomorrow’s front page lead, unless the entire global literati dies of consuming factually inaccurate fiction. Are you, by the way, looking for a job as a reporter?

Those whose eyebrows disappeared into their hairlines after reading her candid views would agree that she, of all people, is an authority on the humanitarian crisis in ‘Waziristan’. Because, you see, she has probably done exhaustive research on ‘Waziristan’ and has lived there for years. She is also probably quite fluent in the language of the area, using which she has been regularly holding intimate conversations with the locals, who have been confiding into her about their deepest “fears and longings” without any qualms. We wonder, madam, if you baked them any croissants as a thank you gesture?

We also wonder how and when Miss Bhutto was afforded such rare and comprehensive access to the local population in ‘Waziristan’, the sort which would turn any ambitious Pakistani reporter green with envy. It is marvelous to note that while flitting about from lit-fest to lit-fest, taking the tube in London, jogging at parks, baking croissants and mouthing off pearls of wisdom to foreign publications, Miss Bhutto has somehow managed to frequent the tricky terrains of ‘Waziristan’ quite regularly. Not to mention mastered the local tongue and struck a reliable camaraderie with its residents, a feat which would demand at least a decade of focused efforts if you happen to not be Miss Bhutto.

Bravo, Miss Bhutto! Congratulations on this achievement. Congratulations also, madame, for the fresh ambassadorial status you have come to enjoy. Newspapers shower you with attention and social media users follow you around like puppy dogs. Your political lineage, ‘Bond-Girl looks’, enigmatic single status and prestigious schooling all come quite handy in masking the drivel that escapes your lips. Pray, tell us madam, if you are aware of the resolutions passed to offset the evils of the Hudood Ordinance by leaders of the very political party whose glory you never fail to bask in? Are you aware, madam, of the Lower House legislations passed to fortify women against harassment and discrimination in the last tenure?

No, Miss Bhutto, the Pakistani woman is not always a helpless, sobbing victim. Unlike what you think, women here can easily wade through the Karachi streets, sit in the legislatures and fight battles. A million voices have been raised in your country against the very ordinance you have been generously citing to smear your country’s already-tainted image with. All of which you are doing “out of love”, we understand.

One day, Miss Bhutto, you will realise that loving this country is not as trifle a task as penning paradigm-shifting fiction from seven seas away. Tell us, Miss Bhutto, if you know what it is like to cast a vote at a sensitive polling station, while knowing that this might be the last thing you ever do, but going ahead and doing it all the same? Tell us, Miss Bhutto, if you know what it is like to be the jiyala who takes a precarious bus ride to Garhi Khuda Bux in the sweltering heat to weep on the graves of your deceased family members? Tell us, Miss Bhutto, if you know what it is like to get baton-charged by the police while shouting yourself hoarse at a street protest? Tell us, Miss Bhutto, if you have ever had any tender thoughts for the men who emerge out of nowhere to assist you when your car runs out of fuel on a busy Karachi street during rush hour?

No, Miss Bhutto, you have had no such thoughts. Because, Miss Bhutto, despite your Columbia degree, much wealth and many travels, you have failed to venture far enough for your car to ever run out of fuel.

Tailpiece: The “highly fictionalised” town of Mir Ali is quite a real town with geographical coordinates 32°59’4N 70°15’24E. Good day.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (56)

  • Sigma
    Dec 4, 2013 - 10:54PM

    Ouch. Spot on!Recommend

  • usman
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:06PM

    It is marvelous to note that while flitting about from lit-fest to lit-fest, taking the tube in London, jogging at parks, baking croissants and mouthing off pearls of wisdom to foreign publications, Miss Bhutto has somehow managed to frequent the tricky terrains of ‘Waziristan’ quite regularly.

    ouch.

    Recommend

  • Carl
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:13PM

    I can almost see the author of this as she writes, frothing at the mouth in her self-righteous patriotic frenzy. Truly bizarre.

    Recommend

  • sabi
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:32PM

    I have not read her new book but what I know of Fatima Bhutto is,a women who is really educated truthful and courageous.People gather around her for her extra ordinary abilities to express the truth.
    Childish article.

    Recommend

  • Sigma
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:43PM

    Spot. On. Thanks for writing this.Recommend

  • csmann
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:46PM

    Fiction is mostly exaggeration of facts,the facts we tend to overlook if not pointed out to us.While things you say might be true for urban population,it is far from even close for the rural areas where most of women live. And they do suffer a lot from the policies and ideologies.Being a writer of fiction also doesn’t require one to be a social worker,not that it might not help.Wazirstan is all over the media anyway than for anyone to go live there to know and write about it,especially so if it fiction.

    Recommend

  • TJ
    Dec 4, 2013 - 11:47PM

    good one. songs of blood and bla bla was another one that the fans of Army love. full of emotional drama, allegations, senseless and baseless accusations. she should read pak studies book. even that is more factual and believable than her version of history or pakistan. or she should read the newspapers for a week. enough to find out who killed SMBB and her whole family.

    Recommend

  • no one
    Dec 5, 2013 - 1:36AM

    She lives in Karachi, not London. Her father died on streets of Clifton, so it won’t be wise to say that she doesn’t know Pakistan. Infact very well. The very fact she denounces highly political Bhuttos is because she blames Benazir and Zardari for her father’s mother. As for Waziristan, I am quite sure a person who has lived life in Afghanistan and Andhrun Sindh knows that pretty well.

    Recommend

  • S
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:19AM

    Had to be said!!! Thank you for writing this!

    My fav part “We wonder, madam, if you baked them any croissants as a thank you gesture?” Brilliant

    Recommend

  • Zehra
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:55AM

    You should have evaluated the novel for its content and the writer for her writing instead of attacking her views just because she has Bhutto as her last name.Recommend

  • Kafka
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:13AM

    Marvelous ! just memorized your name so as not to miss an article by you in future !

    Recommend

  • qasim
    Dec 5, 2013 - 8:50AM

    Ouch…!

    Recommend

  • Ahsan Raza
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:15AM

    This whole article was disgusting. Fatima Bhutto is among few intellectuals this country has and she is primarily a writer. She is also half pashtun, since you constantly insist on attacking her credentials. And in recent interviews she spoke about her travels to all parts of Pakistan and her interviews with journalists and common people from Quetta and Waziristan. And about the Pakistani women being a helpless victim as you so describe. The novel is rooted in rural pashtun society which is a patriarchy by any stretch of the imagination, however, even in those boundaries she describes those women as fighters. Who demand their rights.

    This blatant and disgusting attack was unwarranted. Pakistanis have a habit of Buri batoun pe parda dalo syndrome and its not surprising hearing this after the barrage that is thrown at Malala Yusufzai.

    Recommend

  • Yusuf
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:06AM

    Hey, I like your style Ms.Faiza. Its Biting!!!!!

    Recommend

  • Murad
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:07AM

    OMG. SPOT ON. Not gonna miss any more of your writings, pretty blunt and in your face writing, something that is needed quite badly in Pakistan now. Three Cheers.

    Recommend

  • Shahryar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:01AM

    Love it!

    Recommend

  • cup
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:11AM

    While I disagree with the style of your writing (you sound like youre on a personal mission), I do love the ending. The coordinates were just ideal

    Recommend

  • Ayesha
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:23AM

    I hope you can write much more agressively about bilawal bhutto zardari!

    Recommend

  • sars
    Dec 5, 2013 - 12:02PM

    Hmm. So as a writer i imagine you would have her only write what she lives? that would make for a possibly very limited subject matter.

    She should not be blamed for having the resources to go live elsewhere but write about Pakistan.

    Jealous much?

    Recommend

  • Dec 5, 2013 - 12:13PM

    This article soaked with prejudice

    Recommend

  • waqar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 12:30PM

    i think there is the difference between fiction and reality.

    Recommend

  • Lala Gee
    Dec 5, 2013 - 12:48PM

    Nowadays, hyper-criticizing anything and everything related to Pakistan, and on the way totally ignoring everything good about it, is a short route to international fame and riches. This is not Miss Bhutto’s fault that she discovered this route very early, and in this young tender age has achieved what the other equally talented, but scrupulous and truthful, writers were unable to achieve in their whole life. However, choosing this short cut to fame does not necessarily make Miss Bhutto unpatriotic, or prove that she is not concerned about the sufferings of a common man, though in her own aristocratic feudalistic way. As I know her through her writings and speeches, she is very talented, sensitive, caring, and patriotic person, but lacks initiative, in-depth knowledge, and good analytical skills.

    Recommend

  • abdullah wiqar
    Dec 5, 2013 - 1:38PM

    tis was funny. i like.

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Dec 5, 2013 - 1:46PM

    Second attempt :
    On the book ………. its FICTION……… something like ET’s Poetic License.
    On the the opinion piece………. the over kill, messed it up.

    Recommend

  • Arzoo
    Dec 5, 2013 - 3:14PM

    @Faiza Rahman: My respects to you Faiza, for a beautifully written piece, which speaks the hearts and minds of untold multitudes of suffering Pakistanis. Though most commenters have grasped what you have tried to convey, some could not fathom the underlying pain at seeing the privileged few ensconced in their luxurious pads, trying to scavenge money out of the miseries of the people suffering in Pakistan. Much of that misery being the legacy of the Bhutto family’s misrule over our unfortunate nation.

    Recommend

  • Libra
    Dec 5, 2013 - 3:54PM

    Correctly pointed out that people who do not have roots in this land try to mend things in the way far beyond reality. They are primarily power hungry and damaging this country with their bizarre ideas and designs through some agenda.

    Recommend

  • Libra
    Dec 5, 2013 - 3:56PM

    @sabi:

    A realistic and factual article indeed.Recommend

  • Zeenat Mahal
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:08PM

    First of all, one ‘Miss Bhutto’ too many. Secondly, what’s with the obsession with croissants? Made no sense at all. What was the dig at? Croissants or Fatima? The only thing this article managed to accomplish was list the qualities of the young woman in question.
    Tell us Miss Rahman, did you think this was a professional piece or a hate-rant from what sounds like a jealous teenager? Tell us, Miss Rahman, don’t you think your phrase ‘consuming factually inaccurate fiction’ is a contradiction in terms? Tell us Miss Rahman, how a woman can be called Miss and then referred to as madame in the next sentence? Methinks it should be mademoiselle.
    See how irritating that was? Most Pakistanis, like crabs, feel the need to pull the ones who manage to rise above, down with them. That’s sad and disappointing. On the face of it Fatima Bhutto has everything: beauty, brains, wealth and a big name but nobody’s that lucky, really. She’s had a tough childhood. She lost both her natural parents, and most of her family at a very young age. Yet she continues to fight for Pakistan in every way she can. She’s made everything that happened to her into her strength rather than a weakness. Bravo, Fatima Bhutto!

    Recommend

  • Zeenat Mahal
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:14PM

    @Arzoo:
    I don’t think a person can be blamed for what their ancestors or family did in the past.

    Recommend

  • manji wich daang
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:23PM

    “Tell us, Miss Bhutto, if you know what it is like to be the jiyala who takes a precarious bus ride to Garhi Khuda Bux in the sweltering heat to weep on the graves of your deceased family members?” There is a value judgement in there somewhere, the implications of which are disconcerting. Consider. A member of the editorial staff of ‘The Express Tribune’ finds herself ennobling the ‘jiyala’ inadvertently betraying a certain prejudice for PPP that has always lurked beneath the surface. It is ironic that the editorial staff that finds a certain strand of religiosity retrogressive, is comfortable with fanatical and uncompromising outlook that their beloved ‘jiyala’ subscribes to as far as his political choices are concerned.

    Recommend

  • Confused
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:24PM

    So Miss Faiza you live in Waziristan?

    Recommend

  • Syed Hassan
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:40PM

    Great piece! I love the way writer challenged incompetency of pseudo intellectual. I wish such critiques transform into a movement in Pakistan so to create Pakistani knowledge about Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Arzoo
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:54PM

    @Zeenat Mahal: The mirror image of being thrifty with the truth is being liberal with factual mis-statements. But in your quest to put down the article why would you kill Ms. Bhutto’s mother Fauzia Fasihuddin who is very much alive but Ms. Bhutto refuses to see her. I, and I am sure many others, do not take Faiza’s article as against Ms. Bhutto personally but against a mindset that trivializes and peddles Pakistan’s misfortune abroad for monetary gains. If scions of dynastic feudal rulers of Pakistan would spend some time serving the masses in Pakistan, they would not be the beneficiaries of the scorn you see directed towards them. There is just too much pain in Pakistani society with people dropping dead everyday in scores, and unable to cope with the sky-rocketing prices of commodities, and the scarcity of things commonly available in the past, such as electricity and natural gas, to feel adoration for the prodigy of people who have contributed a great deal to cause that misery.

    Recommend

  • abdullah
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:02PM

    @ Arzoo yours was one of the most intelligent comments i have come across on the net. i applaud you madam/sir.

    Recommend

  • Veela
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:27PM

    Very good article!Recommend

  • Dream On
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:38PM

    did someone here called Fatima Bhutto an “INTELLECTUAL”….iam sure Late Ashfaq Ahmed would be shocked right in his grave….hate these Burger Intellectuals and their verbosity

    Recommend

  • Anita
    Dec 5, 2013 - 5:44PM

    Another jasmeen Manzoor in making.. lolx hun now I am deciphering what has turned you off as a reader … oh by the way did you actually read the book??

    “taking the tube in London, jogging at parks, baking croissants and mouthing off pearls of wisdom to foreign publications” — so by this you actually meant people with such lifestyle aren’t capable of producing authentic publications? (uh okiess, thats something new to me)

    “She is also probably quite fluent in the language of the area, using which she has been regularly holding intimate conversations with the locals, who have been confiding into her about their deepest “fears and longings” without any qualms.” … isn’t that how things happen? like we don’t have surveillance in waziristan right? reporters and writers actually visit those areas to talk to people! Don;t English writers and literati visit those areas and have conversations with people there .. oh so you actually meant they all get fluent in urdu prior to their visits?

    Newspapers shower you with attention and social media users follow you around like puppy dogs. are you jealous if she got more twitter follower than you ??

    No, Miss Bhutto, you have had no such thoughts. Because, Miss Bhutto, despite your Columbia degree, much wealth and many travels, you have failed to venture far enough for your car to ever run out of fuel.
    if she got wealth whats the problem in dat?and literally she is also a Pakistan women so stop trumpeting that “We Pakistani women” blah blah!
    next time hun you want to challenge someone work, be a lil bit professional in your approach! rather than dragging people on personal grounds..

    Thats the reason why this nation is on the verge of breakdown.. stop pulling others legs.. if you got better version of yours… publish it .. there is no harm in having difference of opinions!!!

    and she has been through her thick n thins here .. her father was brutally murdered on the streets of Karachi so you got no rights to question her about the sufferings!

    Recommend

  • Rabia Ali
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:23PM

    Faiza, love your piece.

    Recommend

  • mind control
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:46PM

    OK.
    If I get this correctly.

    A. Ms Bhutto knows nothing.

    B. Ms Faiza is a know all.

    C. Literary criticism can not wait till a book is actually published.

    D. A writer is not allowed to write about places till they start residing there.

    I am glad I do not intend to write either ‘Paradise Lost’ or ‘Inferno’.

    Thank God for Small Mercies.

    Disclaimer- I do not claim to know God personally or to hold regular dialogues with Him.
    Peace.

    Recommend

  • Mani
    Dec 5, 2013 - 7:05PM

    So all this boils down to is bla bla bla Fatima Bhutto is prettier than me

    Recommend

  • Raza
    Dec 5, 2013 - 7:14PM

    Fascinating piece Faiza; excellent take-down of another elitist piece of work that has no grounds in reaity. ET really has no writer of your caliber; as always, a treat!

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Dec 5, 2013 - 7:50PM

    @Carl:
    U don’t have a clue dude !!

    Recommend

  • Shamima
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:29PM

    One doesn’t have to go to the Moon to write about it. As a work of fiction its quite a gripping novel. You should discuss the literary merit of the author….not question her right to write about Waziristan.

    Recommend

  • Humanity
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:42PM

    Nothing more than a petty personal attack :(

    Recommend

  • its ok
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:35PM

    @ anita…your comprehension skill is far better than all others commenting here.

    Recommend

  • Huma
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:14PM

    The critic is a bit too cynical the book is a fiction and well written.lets learn to appreciate our authors when the world is appreciating. We just can’t seem to get out of politicsRecommend

  • Amin
    Dec 5, 2013 - 11:29PM

    Perhaps the book should be called ‘In the Shadow of the Croissant’ !

    Recommend

  • Dec 6, 2013 - 1:31AM

    On a first reading this op-ed actually comes across as witty, but the further down you go, the worse it gets in terms of its vitriol. While I am no fan of Fatima’s, and often criticize the fascination with her just by virtue of her lineage, as well as the fact that she does cash in on the family tragedy card quite a bit, I think it’s rather unfair to attack her for writing a piece of fiction on the grounds that she doesn’t know the first thing about Waziristan. It’s fiction, there’s imagination and creativity involved, and I do not think the point was to undermine anyone’s struggles. Are you suggesting that authors should not write unless they write from personal experience? Because that’s a very, very problematic view to have. This could have been such a good critique, and you are a great writer, but you’ve just made it personal and bitter for reasons I can’t fathom.

    Recommend

  • Troll, A
    Dec 6, 2013 - 1:40AM

    Hah, I don’t usually say this and I don’t know if I agree with all the points, but that was a WELL written piece. Kind of an abnormality on this site these days. Cheers!

    Recommend

  • Sigma
    Dec 6, 2013 - 2:52AM

    Agree with Troll. Totally couldn’t stop reading because it was written in such good style even if I disagreed with stuff here and there

    Recommend

  • Omair
    Dec 6, 2013 - 3:30PM

    Whilst I am no fan of any Bhuttos, I don’t see the point of this article really! If at all, I spell a little jealousy in the tone.

    Whilst a lot has been said, written and shown on the atrocities of the past, there are still people writing about events such as holocaust.

    Recommend

  • Sam
    Dec 7, 2013 - 1:56AM

    Too good!

    Recommend

  • Hira Jibran
    Dec 7, 2013 - 12:00PM

    Brilliantly written..!! Keep it up..!

    Recommend

  • Sahrish
    Dec 7, 2013 - 2:57PM

    such a pathetic attack. It is a work
    Of FICTION. Second time today I am seeing someone of actual substance and progressive ideology being attacked. This article is just absolute garbage.

    Recommend

  • Sahrish
    Dec 7, 2013 - 3:01PM

    this is just absolutely pathetic. It is a work of FICTION. Since when does that entail one to go and conduct extensive research on said area/topic of book. Its not investigative journalism. Second time today I am seeing someone of actual substance with progressive ideology being attacked. this article is rubbish

    Recommend

  • M
    Dec 8, 2013 - 4:02AM

    I think more than the book, the writer was responding to an interview Fatima Bhutto had given to a section of the foreign press.

    Here is the interview: http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/fatima-bhutto-south-asia-needs-more-malalas-8954552.html

    It mentions the tube, croissants, Bond girl reference and walking in Karachi bit that the writer of this piece has mentioned. Recommend

More in Opinion