Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword is a lament for her dead father, Murtaza Bhutto, and an attempt to resurrect his political reputation. It is also a moving memoir of a troubled childhood with him in exile. At the same time, however, it is a dubious attempt to rewrite Pakistan’s recent history in the light of her own family’s political ambitions to power and money.
Fatima belongs to an old Sindhi feudal family. They came to prominence when her grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (or ZAB), became Prime Minister of Pakistan amid the turbulence of the 1970s. She is also the niece of Benazir Bhutto, who was twice elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Fatima is dazzled by her grandfather. ZAB was a firebrand socialist with impeccable feudal credentials who emerged to lead a demoralised, truncated Pakistan in 1971. Reading her gushing account of her grandfather brings back the memory of climbing on the roof of my father’s old Pontiac and screaming