Benazir Bhutto’s extraordinary life – Business Daily


Book Review

Benazir Bhutto’s extraordinary life

Benazir Bhutto. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

There is no better time to read Daughter of Destiny by Benazir Bhutto than during Covid-19 season, when most people are under some form of social distancing to keep this monster virus at bay.

The book was first published in 1988 as Daughter of the East. Benazir Bhutto spent a large chunk of her life under house arrest, like what is happening under the virus. Only difference is better communication technology today.

Benazir, daughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and also a former premier herself, the world’s youngest and first woman in the Muslim world to rise this high, penned this cautiously written autobiography as an ode to her father’s legacy.

It is also a demonstration of owning her story, protesting the military regime of her country and biography for the subsequent generations of the Bhutto clan.

“I didn’t choose this life; it chose me.” That’s the preface to the 2008 edition of Benazir’s book. “Pakistan is no ordinary country. And mine has been no ordinary life. My father and two brothers were killed. My mother, husband and I were all imprisoned. I have spent years in exile. Despite the difficulties and sorrows, however, I feel blessed.”

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And Benazir was indeed blessed to be raised by a loving family, tutored by the best, at the best schools, including Oxford and Harvard, have a first-hand account of what running a country was like through the eyes of her father and herself before being exiled and murdered.

The book chronicles the Bhutto clan from its patriarch, and ancestral lands in the heart of the Asian nation. She admits “it’s not necessarily the life I would have chosen, but it has been a life of opportunity, responsibility and fulfilment. And I sense the future holds still more challenges that must be met for my country.”

Although written as a preface, it reads like a last testament, penned in April 2007 in London, before her tragic death on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi.

The contrasts of her life, being an outspoken female in a country that abhors or discourages womenfolk from taking part in politics, condemning human rights abuses, cultivating to earn meaningfully or going to school.

The impact of her legacy in the Muslim world can be seen in lives such as those of Malala Yiusafzai and her admirers.

Reading Daughter of Destiny reveals that although Benazir knew the risks of going against the military, or engaging in politics, she deemed it a higher calling.

She writes in simply, helping the readership to follow the history or politics of Pakistan and understand.

The book feels not only like a history lesson, but learning class for those eyeing politics as a career in the third world to improve the State.

However, the book is mired in controversies surrounding her father’s political opponent, General Zia Ul Haq, who later succeeded him. She paints Zia as a villain endlessly, and barely mentions infractions her own father might have committed as a leader.

It would be better with independent research for balance. At 446 pages, it leaves one asking for more.



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