Daughter of Destiny: An Autobiographyby Benazir Bhutto
Daughter of Destiny, the autobiography of Benazir Bhutto, is a historical document of uncommon passion and courage, the dramatic story of a brilliant, beautiful woman whose life was, up to her tragic assassination in 2007, inexorably tied to her nation's tumultuous history. Bhutto writes of growing up in a family of legendary wealth and near-mythic status,/em>
Daughter of Destiny, the autobiography of Benazir Bhutto, is a historical document of uncommon passion and courage, the dramatic story of a brilliant, beautiful woman whose life was, up to her tragic assassination in 2007, inexorably tied to her nation's tumultuous history. Bhutto writes of growing up in a family of legendary wealth and near-mythic status, a family whose rich heritage survives in tales still passed from generation to generation. She describes her journey from this protected world onto the volatile stage of international politics through her education at Radcliffe and Oxford, the sudden coup that plunged her family into a prolonged nightmare of threats and torture, her father's assassination by General Zia ul-Haq in 1979, and her grueling experience as a political prisoner in solitary confinement.
With candor and courage, Benazir Bhutto recounts her triumphant political rise from her return to Pakistan from exile in 1986 through the extraordinary events of 1988: the mysterious death of Zia; her party's long struggle to ensure free elections; and finally, the stunning mandate that propelled her overnight into the ranks of the world's most powerful, influential leaders.
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Daughter of Destiny
The Assassination of My Father
They killed my father in the early morning hours of April 4, 1979, inside Rawalpindi Central Jail. Imprisoned with my mother a few miles away in a deserted police training camp at Sihala, I felt the moment of my father's death. Despite the Valiums my mother had given me to try and get through the agonising night, I suddenly sat bolt-upright in bed at 2.00 am. 'No!' the scream burst through the knots in my throat. 'No!' I couldn't breathe, didn't want to breathe. Papa! Papa! I felt cold, so cold, in spite of the heat, and couldn't stop shaking. There was nothing my mother and I could say to console each other. Somehow the hours passed as we huddled together in the bare police quarters. We were ready at dawn to accompany my father's body to our ancestral family graveyard.
'I am in Iddat and can't receive outsiders. You talk to him,' my mother said dully when the jailer arrived. She was beginning a widow's four months and ten days of seclusion from strangers.
I walked into the cracked cement-floored front room that was supposed to serve as our sitting room. It stank of mildew and rot.
We are ready to leave with the Prime Minister,' I told the junior jailer standing nervously before me.
'They have already taken him to be buried,' he said.
I felt as if he had struck me. Without his family?' I asked bitterly. 'Even the criminals in the military regime know that it is our family's religious obligation to accompany his body, to recite the prayers for the dead, to see his face before burial. We applied to the jail superintendent . . . '
'They have taken him,' he interrupted.
'Taken him where?'
The jailer was silent.
'It was very peaceful,' he finally replied. 'I have brought what was left.'
He handed me one by one the pitiful items from my father's death cell: my father's shalwar khameez, the long shirt and loose trousers he'd worn to the end, refusing as a political prisoner to wear the uniform of a condemned criminal; the tiffin box for food that he had refused for the last ten days; the roll of bedding they had allowed him only after the broken wires of his cot had lacerated his back; his drinking cup . . .
'Where is his ring?' I managed to ask the jailer.
'Did he have a ring?'
I watched him make a great show of fishing through his bag, through his pockets. Finally he handed me my father's ring, which towards the end had regularly slipped off his emaciated fingers.
'Peaceful. It was very peaceful,' he kept muttering.
How could a hanging be peaceful?
Basheer and Ibrahim, our family bearers who had come to prison with us because the authorities did not provide us with food, came into the room. Basheer's face went white when he recognised my father's clothes.
'Ya Allah! Ya Allah! They've killed Sahib! They've killed him!' he screamed. Before we could stop him, Basheer grabbed a can of petrol and doused himself with it, preparing to set himself aflame. My mother had to rush out to prevent his self-immolation.
I stood in a daze, not believing what had happened to my father, not wanting to. It was just not possible that Zulfikar Au Bhutto, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to be elected directly by the people, was dead. Where there had been repression under the Generals who had ruled Pakistan since its birth in 1947, my father had been the first to bring democracy. Where the people had lived as they had for centuries at the mercy of their tribal chiefs and landlords, he had installed Pakistan's first constitution to guarantee legal protection and civil rights. Where the people had had to resort to violence and bloodshed to unseat the Generals, he had guaranteed a Parliamentary system of civilian government and elections every five years.
No. It was not possible. 'Jiye Bhutto! Long live Bhutto!' millions had cheered when he became the first politician ever to visit the most forlorn and remote villages of Pakistan. When his Pakistan People's Party was voted into office, my father had started his modernisation programmes, redistributing the land held for generations by the feudal few among the many poor, educating the millions held down by ignorance, nationalising the country's major industries, guaranteeing minimum wages, job security, and forbidding discrimination against women and minorities. The six years of his government had brought light to a country steeped in stagnant darkness—until the dawn of July 5, 1977.
Zia ul-Haq. My father's supposedly loyal army Chief-of-Staff. The General who had sent his soldiers in the middle of the night to overthrow my father and take over the country by force. Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who had subsequently failed to crush my father's following in spite of all his guns and tear gas and Martial Law regulations, who had failed to break my father's spirit despite his isolation in a death cell. Zia ul-Haq, the desperate General who had just sent my father to his death. Zia ul-Haq. The General who would ruthlessly rule Pakistan for the next nine years.
I stood numbly in front of the junior jailer, holding the small bundle that was all that was left of my father. The scent of his cologne was still on his clothes, the scent of Shalimar. I hugged his shalwar to me, suddenly remembering Kathleen Kennedy who had worn her father's parka at Radcliffe long after the Senator had been killed. Our two families had always been compared in terms of politics. Now, we had a new and dreadful bond. That night, and for many other nights, I too tried to keep my father near me by sleeping with his shirt under my pillow.Daughter of Destiny. Copyright © by Benazir Bhutto. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996, and the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party. Born in 1953 in Karachi, Bhutto was the first woman ever to lead a Muslim state. She lived in exile from 1999 until her return to Pakistan in October 2007, two months before her assassination.
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It will change your perceptions on so many things, shows love and compassion and strength that most (myself included) can only aspire too.