Daughter of Destiny (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, was executed on April 4, 1979, by the military regime that had overthrown his democratically elected government, his daughter Benazir set her sights on a single goal. At whatever personal cost, she would restore to the people of her country the right to determine their own political destiny. Her book documents the decade-long struggle that culminated in the resounding victory of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in November, 1988, and her appointment as prime minister a month later.
Bhutto writes at the end of her first chapter, “In the stories my father had told us over and over as children, good always triumphed over evil.” It is this kind of story that she has made of her life. Daughter of Destiny is not a history of Pakistan in the late twentieth century but the personal narrative of a devoted daughter passionately committed to carrying on her father’s work. She says in her epilogue that she wrote in order “to set down the record of the brutal Martial Law regime of General Zia ul-Haq.” Much of the work is thus an account of the torture, imprisonment, and abuse endured by her family and their political allies. To give a sense of the scope of the persecution, she includes brief accounts of the horrors suffered by other Zia victims. Yet throughout the painful, graphic scenes runs a thread of hope, the author’s underlying faith that good will triumph—and she never...
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Form and Content (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
As the autobiography of the first woman ever to lead a Muslim country, Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter of Destiny is the story of the making of a tenacious and charismatic politician in a male-dominated society. It is also a record of the years from 1977 to 1988, when Pakistan was ruled by a military dictatorship under General Zia Ul-Haq until free elections swept Bhutto to power.
Bhutto’s account of these years is dramatic and highly personal. Woven into the political story is a continuing family tragedy. Daughter of Destiny begins in medias res with a painful account of the last days of Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in April, 1979. He had been Pakistan’s socialist-leaning prime minister from 1971 until he was ousted by a military coup led by his army chief of staff, General Zia, in 1977. Zia then had the former head of state put on trial on a charge of conspiracy to murder a minor politician in 1974. According to Benazir Bhutto, the charges were a fabrication, and the trial was rigged. Bhutto was convicted and hanged by the military regime in spite of worldwide pleas for clemency. After this shattering event the Bhutto legacy fell to the twenty-six-year-old Benazir and her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, who became acting chair of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
While Benazir Bhutto and her mother tried to carry on the work of the PPP, they were repeatedly arrested by the military regime. In the structure of...
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Context (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
Long before her political achievements in Pakistan made her famous, Benazir Bhutto made a small contribution to the emancipation of women when in England in 1976 she became the first woman president of the Oxford Union Debating Society. Only ten years before, women had been restricted to the upstairs gallery during debates.
More significant, of course, was that at the age of thirty-five Bhutto became the first woman to lead a Muslim nation, even though many of her opponents had claimed that this was contrary to Islam. On the campaign trail she had countered these charges by telling crowds, which were made up mostly of men, that Muslim women had a proud heritage and that she herself had the courage of Bibi Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife, who had ridden her own camel into battle at the head of the Muslims.
Bhutto’s success was not as unusual as some Western commentators assumed. As Bhutto points out, there is something of a tradition in southern Asia for the women of prominent families to carry on the political legacies of the men. Such has been the case with Indira Gandhi in India, Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka, and Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto’s mother. In India in 1991, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of the Congress Party, the party offered the leadership to Gandhi’s Italian-born wife, although she refused it.
Benazir Bhutto served as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990, when she was...
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