Now Dateline’s feature interview with the boldly outspoken Fatima Bhutto, the 20-something niece of
REPORTER: George Negus
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, I don't really consider myself to be in public life as such. I'm not involved in politics in any active role.
GEORGE NEGUS: But you do write a lot about politics, so I guess whilst you say you're not really in public life, you write a lot about politics in a very - if I could put it this way - aggressive fashion, which would make you a target for at least criticism, if not something worse maybe.
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, I do write on political and social issues and the idea that one shouldn't - or the idea that we should censor ourselves - doesn't really work for me because it would be doing the government's job for them. And I'm not interested in doing that. I think what we need very much in
GEORGE NEGUS: The most recent member of your family to die was Benazir, your aunt. It could be said that you've hardly held back on your criticism of her, both personally and politically. Why do you feel so badly towards her?
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, I never criticised my aunt, Benazir, personally, I always spoke about her political record. There are two Benazirs. There's the Benazir that people saw in the West, who was an English-speaking, brave, quite photogenic politician - "one of us" or one of you, actually, if you will. And then there's the Benazir we lived with in
GEORGE NEGUS: It sounds like you believe that
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, you see, the corruption cases that both my aunt, Benazir, and her husband, the current president, Asif Zadari are accused of not only ran into the billions of dollars, but they were being prosecuted in Switzerland, in England, in Spain and across the world. Certainly, if we believe in democracy and democratic systems, when she failed to pass any legislation, really, at all in her first two years in government during her first term and in fact had a tenure that was marked not only by gross corruption but by human rights abuses, that should have been a time for people to say, "Well, OK, we've given you an opportunity and you haven't bettered the institutions, you haven't strengthened the democratic cause - we may not vote you back." But of course, in
GEORGE NEGUS: What do you mean by that? "Depending on what the
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, I think it's not only political, but I think it unfortunately happens to be a fact. We had 11 years of General Zia-ul-Haq in government, not because he was a great government in the 1980s - not because he was a great president - but because he was helping the Americans fight the Soviets in
GEORGE NEGUS: So are you saying that
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, we didn't elect them. So someone put them in there and someone kept them and it wasn't the Pakistani people.
GEORGE NEGUS: You actually said that your aunt's husband - who is now the President - was "one of the most venal figures in
FATIMA BHUTTO: I don't think it's about me liking him. I think we have to take into consideration that before he ascended to the office of the president - in exactly the same way that General Musharraf ascended, through a parliamentary vote, rather than a national vote - Asif Zadari was facing four murder cases in
GEORGE NEGUS: Help me here. How can a man with that kind of record become the leader of any country - in your case,
FATIMA BHUTTO: It IS unbelievable. It certainly is unbelievable. Not only did he have four murder cases against him, but again, as I said, corruption cases proceeding against him, in the billions of dollars in
GEORGE NEGUS: Would you say that the death of democracy occurred in
FATIMA BHUTTO: I think what happened when my grandfather, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was executed is you had a military dictator allowed to come in here and put to death a democratically elected ruler. You had that military dictator celebrated in the White House, you had him accepted into the UN, you had him, really, as an ally for Western and so-called democratic governments the world over. And that set a very dangerous precedent.
GEORGE NEGUS: You have said that your aunt was "morally responsible" for your father's death. Of course, she denied that. Why do you feel that she was responsible for your father's death?
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, there are several reasons. You have to look first at the
GEORGE NEGUS: But you're not saying she was directly responsible.
FATIMA BHUTTO: There are two things. There was the moral responsibility, and that, first, is creating an atmosphere where the security forces can kill with impunity, where they can turn up at a place, shoot seven people - really at point-blank fashions - and then get away with it and be, in fact, promoted. And then there is the actual responsibility, the governmental responsibility. My aunt's government forbade us, initially, from filing a police report - which is every Pakistani citizen's right under the law. She also after my father's murder did not allow us to proceed with a criminal investigation, a criminal case. She put into place a tribunal that was to have no legal authority. And that tribunal, in fact - though it could not pass sentence - said the only ammunition spent was that of the police, who used an excess amount of force, and that the permission for my father's assassination could not have come except from the highest level of government.
GEORGE NEGUS: You've said you don't believe in birthright politics, and obviously you were referring to the fact that the Bhutto family are regarded as one of the world's best-known political dynasties. You've said that you don't appear Well, you don't appear to have any political ambition, even though the country has said - I've read this quote somewhere - that "the country needs right now a true Bhutto to do the job" of cleaning up this mess, if you like, of a country that's Pakistan. Where does that leave you?
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, I think that our reliance on dynasty is part of the problem here, because dynasty is inherently undemocratic. It's a very entitled thing to suggest that only one member of one family can save a country of 180 million people. It has to be about people who live in constituencies coming forward to represent them, not the sort of parachuted, elite class that comes in, wins elections and then leaves.
GEORGE NEGUS: In America this week they've been talking about rebuilding relations with Pakistan, and in fact the US is saying a victory of sorts has occurred, that change is occurring, there's a wind of change. But a lot of other people regard
GEORGE NEGUS: So if you're not pro-America, there's no point?
FATIMA BHUTTO: Well, unfortunately the people who claimed to be democrats here and the people who claim to be working in democratic interests receive $10 billion cheques from the
GEORGE NEGUS: Can we talk about the Obama Administration and Barack Obama's attitude towards
FATIMA BHUTTO: I think we also have to look at the fact that
GEORGE NEGUS: Hillary Clinton said when she became Secretary of State that "
FATIMA BHUTTO: It has gotten worse. We didn't have an indigenous Taliban before 2008. We didn't have a war in Swat before 2008, we didn't have a war in
GEORGE NEGUS: What would prompt you to pick up the cudgel, as it were, not of the Bhutto family, but your own, and get directly involved in politics?
FATIMA BHUTTO: It wouldn't. I mean, I think it's perfectly possible for us to stay outside of power politics, or parliamentary politics, and speak about things like the American hegemony in the region or speak about the unjust war on terror that's been brought to our borders. In fact, if you look at people within our government, they seem to be quite enthusiastically fighting the war against their own people at the behest of the
GEORGE NEGUS: We have to leave it there unfortunately, but all the best with your life and your book.
FATIMA BHUTTO: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
GEORGE NEGUS: Fatima Bhutto, 28.