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Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

His Flaws Were Borrowed From The Epics

Bhutto’s character traits, his late political life as PM, his controversial death...all that is brillianty lit in this biography, but it’s silent on his deleterious role in the 1971 crisis

His Flaws Were Borrowed From The Epics
His Flaws Were Borrowed From The Epics
outlookindia.com
2018-04-21T10:37:57+05:30

In the introduction of her book, Syeda Hameed writes, “For twenty years I lived with a man I never met”. She repeats almost the same sentence while finally summarising her assessment of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: “An extraordinary man who I never met, but with whom I have lived for almost twenty years”. Clearly, Hameed has been awestruck by Bhu­tto. She worked on his political biography off and on for two decades; hence, a full consideration of all facets of his complex political journey could be legitimately expected. This is sadly lacking, as is an examination of some of Bhutto’s policies and act­ions that particularly impacted India. However, on offer are many int­eresting aspects of Bhutto’s life and career which make Hameed’s work worth reading. What adds int­erest are the questions raised, alt­h­ough tangentially, on the criterion to judge great political leaders.

Bhutto was the scion of a leading Sindhi landed family. He inherited many of its feudal traits—fondness for the good life, supreme confidence, arrogance and disdain for opposing views. But he also displayed qualities that went beyond the confines of his class—intellectual depth and vigour, powers of art­iculation, an ability to identify with and therefore mobilise and sway the masses. Their impact was eroded though by a suspicious nature and vicious vengefulness. Thus, many contradictions combined in his varied personality, which took him to the pinnacle of power to give hope to a defeated country but which also plunged him from the execution platform. Fascinated by the elements, often at odds with themselves, in Bhutto the man and politician, Hameed sees ‘parallels’ in his life and Sophocles’s Oedipus. True, there was much drama in Bhutto’s crowded, charged and short life, but did the fault lie in him or in his stars?

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