The Clippings File: Pakistan

Pakistan Tops List of Journalists Killed in 2007

In 2002 Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan. His widow, Mariane, also a journalist, wrote a book about her search for him that was adapted into a movie that was released in 2007. “I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do what she did,” Angelina Jolie, who plays Mariane Pearl, told Voice of America, “and when I first saw her interviews and the way she responded to what happened to her husband …and she was able to go on days later and say ‘ten other people died this month and they were all Pakistani and they are suffering as much as we are…’ I could not, when I first heard that, understand how she was able to come to that so quickly; and having gotten to know her and understand where that is coming from and the importance of having dialog and trying to go that higher ground to find solutions – I have learned that and it is a big lesson.”

Journalists are still dying in Pakistan. Several days after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto the South Asia Free Media Association reported that seven journalists had been killed in Pakistan in 2007, six in Sri Lanka, and five in Afghanistan. “The Pakistani journalists killed were – Mehboob Khan, a freelancer, Noor Hakim Khan of Daily Pakistan, Javed Khan of Markaz and DM Digital TV, Muhammad Arif of ARY One World TV, Zubair Ahmed Mujahid of Jang, Nisar Ahmed Solangi who worked for a Sindhi daily, and Syed Kamil Mashadi, who worked with a private TV channel.”

For security reasons Angelina Jolie’s scenes were shot in India but Dan Futterman, who played Daniel Pearl, went to Pakistan and filmed his scenes in Karachi, in the actual locations where Pearl had been living and researching his stories. “To be there and get a sense of Urdu being spoken on the street, the sort of incredible chaos – both in good and bad ways of that city …it is an amazing place, teeming with 14 million people in greater Karachi, and you get the sense of sort of bursting at the seams,” he told Voice of America. “I don’t think you could get that anywhere else. It was incredibly important to the texture and the feel of the movie to be shooting actually where things happened.”

“The Pakistani detective who solved the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has joined the probe into the killing of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto,” Agence France Presse reports officials saying. Zubair Mahmood, a Pakistani detective, is portrayed in the movie as Captain. He’s joined the British detectives from Scotland Yard investigating the assassination. In November of 2006 the Christian Scientist Monitor interviewed him when the movie was being shot.

He risked his life and reputation.On the one hand, the current attention makes Mr. Mahmood proud. But five years later, he still has concerns about how the film will be received here. “I did something good and have recognition for that. But it brings a threat to me; it compromises my security,” he says. “There are so many who don’t like me, who think I’m a traitor – because I arrested one of their good friends.” But in the spirit of the film, Mahmood says he won’t be swayed by fear. Instead, he hopes that in highlighting the efforts of his investigative team, the film can create a positive impression of Pakistan. “The movie will bring a good name to my country in a way.”

David Montero. Christian Science Monitor. November 8, 2006

AFP Photo of Fatima Bhutto by Rizwan Tabassum

A Journalist In The Bhutto Dynasty

On November 14 last year the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by Benazir Bhutto’s niece. “We Pakistanis live in uncertain times. Emergency rule has been imposed for the 13th time in our short 60-year history,” Fatima Bhutto wrote. “Thousands of lawyers have been arrested, some charged with sedition and treason; the chief justice has been deposed; and a draconian media law — shutting down all private news channels — has been drafted.”

“Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of Benazir’s late brother Murtaza, is a poet and politician who became a harsh critic of her aunt. But after her death, Fatima issued a public call for calm in the family,” reported the Associated Press, which quoted from a piece she’d written for The News in Pakistan. “I never agreed with her politics. I never did. I never agreed with those she kept around her, the political opportunists, hangers-on, them. They repulse me. I never agreed with her version of events. Never. But in death, in death perhaps there is a moment to call for calm. To say, enough. We have had enough. We cannot, and we will not, take anymore madness.”

In an opinion piece published in the Telegraph in London, Jemima Khan, ex-wife of former Pakistan Cricket Captain Imran Khan, who has his own political party in Pakistan, suggested Fatima as a future leader.

The justification for the selection of Benazir’s son as chairman was that only a Bhutto could provide unity within the party. If so, then why not 25-year-old Fatima Bhutto, who is arguably more qualified for the job than her teenage Facebooking cousin? If everything’s in a name, Fatima need not have changed hers in order to inherit. Brought up in Pakistan, unlike Bilawal, and a native speaker, she is an established writer and political commentator. At least she has some work experience. Aunt Benazir’s first-ever job was prime minister of a 160-million-strong nation.

It helps, in a lookist society, that she’s also as beautiful as her aunt – a young Salma Hayek lookalike – and has similar tragic appeal: orphaned, like most Bhuttos, as a result of a political assassination. Fatima is also politicised and outspoken. Too much so. She repeatedly accused her aunt of being complicit in the murder of her father and savagely opposed Zardari. That ruled her out.

The real reason Fatima is my favourite Bhutto, though, is that she has the sense to realise that a few good articles and the right surname don’t qualify her for leadership. Unlike others in the family, she rejects the notion that political power is her birthright: “I don’t think my name qualifies me or makes me the best person.”