This story starts the day Asif Zardari became Pakistan's President and Fatima's world (and some say her brain) turned upside down. Zardari is the man she blames for her father's assasination; Mir Murtaza was tragically killed in a 'police-encounter' during Benazir Bhutto's second reign. Despite sufficient evidence, the allegations were never proven in court and as Fatima's half of the family watched in anguish, Zardari not only found himself out of bars, but then miraculously traded prison for presidential palace.
Not suprisingly this did not sit well with dear ol' Fatima. But few would have imagined how her immaculate public composure would plummet. Her incisive columns in The News turned into meaningless rants against a toothless and rather new government. The fact that she did it from the platform of a staunch PPP opponent made the critique biased and ruthless. Everything from the lack of public schools to the proliferation of mosquitoes in the country was blamed on the Presidency. Interview conversation switched from her knowledge of the country's problems to her childhood trauma. Loyal followers (and there were many) grew tired, some started turning away and others (me) started complaining.
So like every self-respecting journalist (which is what she calls herself) faced with an objective dilemma, she did the obvious. She decided to write a book! Now I didn't read the book myself, but based on her last few columns, I have a very strong hunch that it is more or less composed of three lines:
Benazir and Zardari had my father killed.
Benazir and Zardari really had my father killed.
Benazir and Zardari actually had my father killed.
The cover of Fatima's book. Kidding!
Suffice to say, few read the book. Most domestic reviewers gave it scathing reviews. To make matters worse, the West had an opposite view, devouring it as a heroic tale. The global feting and book signings convinced Fatima of a pre-conceived conspiracy against her back home. Hence, she stopped talking to Pakistani journalists or writing in Pakistani publications altogether. The News was out, The Daily Beast was in. When that didn't sit well, she went on to claim that everyone in Pakistan criticising her was actually a PPP agent. When Declan Walsh, the Guardian's Afghanistan- Pakistan editor, joined the chorus, Fatima called him a PPP agent too. At this point, no one seemed immune from being labelled an agent of the country's largest political party. Many wondered who'd be next to receive the treatment from Fatima's famous Twitter account.
Three names came to mind:
1. Cafe Pyala, a blog that called out Fatima for getting her anthropology wrong. They are anonymous too, a hallmark of PPP supporters and of course agents too.
2. Mohammad Asif, a man who brought shame to Pakistan via his corruption. Just like another guy. Who also shares his name, starting with an A? Get it? Good.
3. Five Rupees, who admitted to being on the PPP payroll, and once even put it on top of their blog! Jeez. Also, switched from a popular, easy-to-access blog to an ugly, impossible-to-comment-on blog. Much like what Zardari did to the PPP.
But then somewhere along the line I also feel sorry for Fatima. I mean, what is she supposed to do? As a journalist people question her objectivity. As an author, they question her creativity. As a politician, they question...wait what she's a politician too?! Well, she's a Bhutto so you cannot not be a politician, and despite poor Fatima's dreams of being an apolitical crusader, by her own admission she was campaigning for her mother's party when Benazir was assasinated.
So readers, the question is what should Fatima do now? I don't want her to be irrelevant and a laughing stock. She's too good (and pretty) for that. Plus, the other Bhutto kids are kind of uncool, and not fun to talk about. So it really would be a tragedy if she just fell flat. I suggest a career change. On top of my head I could think of three possible ones:
1. She should become a full-fledged politician ala Sassi Palejo or Marvi Memon. Both of them make a lot of noise, and in the grand scheme of things are rather irrelevant, but they're still important. If that makes sense.
2. She should join the ISI's Zardari Defamation League. She'll have friends there too! i.e: the entire staff of her former employer, The News.
3. If all else fails, she could ask Shoaib Mansoor to replace Iman Ali with herself. She looks like her, and could have pulled off Iman's hilariously bad British accent in Khuda Kay Liye better than her. Fact.
There's still hope Fatima. Atleast, I'm pulling for you!