My Charlie Wilson War – Fatima Bhutto

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8 January 2009

Source: The Daily Beast

Why is the University of Texas naming a chair of Pakistan Studies after the notorious U.S. congressman who helped destabilize that country? Fatima Bhutto—niece of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto—demands an answer.

Pakistan’s new government, the only in the world headed by two former convicts—who have their fingers on the button of a nuclear-armed state, no less—is nothing if not a keen purveyor of irony.

There’s currently an effort underway by the Pakistani diplomatic mission in Texas to raise funds for a chair of Pakistan Studies at the University of Texas in Austin. The chair, a dream of the Pakistani diplomatic community, is to be named after Charlie Wilson. For those who missed the movie, it’s worth noting that of all the people to name a chair of Pakistani Studies after, Charlie Wilson is possibly the stupidest.

Why Pakistan would chose to honor Wilson is beyond everyone, even the Texans.

“Good-Time Charlie,” as Wilson was affectionately known by Afghan warlords and Texan socialites alike, has the dubious reputation of being the godfather of what would later be known as the Taliban in Afghanistan. (He was also buddies with Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.) In the 1980s, Wilson led Congress into supporting the CIA covert Continue reading

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Pilgrimage to Nowhere: A Year on From Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination – Fatima Bhutto

Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bux, Sindh Province, Pakistan

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08 January 2009

Source: New Statesman

The old Bhutto mazaar, or graveyard, is in a small town called Garhi Khuda Bux. It is not fair to call it a town; it’s a hamlet really, nestled between swaths of fertile agricultural land and small town centres that cater to travelling traders and produce distributors. When I was younger, I used to know we were close to the mazaar as we drove by the old paan wallah. He was a geriatric who sold betel-leaf paans, conical beedi cigarettes and a pack or two of Gold Leaf extra-strong smokes from the table he sat on. The mazaar itself was hundreds of years old and is where the Bhuttos have been buried since they settled in Sind. Wooden pillars, carved with lattice designs, marked the absence of the four walls that would have enclosed the open-air burial site. It was a sombre resting place: four corners of Sind lay open around you, and the dusty smell of the air in Garhi Khuda Bux’s desert climate surrounded mourners who came to mark death anniversaries and birthdays.

It’s all gone now.

It was torn down by the last member of the family to be buried there, Benazir Bhutto, and rebuilt as a mausoleum. In a country where politics has always orbited around personalities, she was determined that Continue reading

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