by Shaheryar Ali

“My Politics is mingled with poetry and Romance”

“I have learned politics from Rivers”

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

I am daughter of Indus, I am daughter of Taxila, I am an heir of this 5000 years old civilization

Benazir Bhutto

“Mein Baghi hoon, Mein Baghi hoon”, “I am a Rebel”

Benazir Bhutto [reciting a poem to millions who came to greet her at Lahore in 86]

Bhuttos were strange people, they became myths in their lives, like the Nehrus, Allendes, Nasirs, Arafats, they were the most loved people of their times. They became the symbol of resistance, their politics merged with folk lore, with music and poetry.

Benazir was perhaps last of this creed of politicians. Every one was angry with her for letting down her father’s socialist policies. No one understood her tragedy, this was the tragedy of the epoch in which she lived. This was the tragedy of Yasser Arafat, this was the tragedy of Hafiz Al Asad. She lived in the epoch of defeat. She lived in the epoch where the Capitalism snuffed out the Revolution of 1917. The dream was dead and the revolutionaries were without history, ideology and support.

In the single day the prophets of “modernism” and “progress” became”outdated” and “relics of the past”. It was this historic compulsion that made gods like Yasir Arafat irrelevant.

What was Benazir’s greatest achievement, she defeated this epoch. She refused to become “irrelevant”. She never led a revolution in Pakistan, but she never allowed reaction to take over either. When Hamas took over Palestine and Hizbollah conquered Lebanon, Bhutto and her party kept the hope alive in Pakistan no matter how weak it was , for the progressive politics. Jamate Islami lost the best opportunity it ever had to take over Pakistan by popularism after 9/11. The slogans of “Al Jihad Al Jihad” were checked by “Roti Kapra aur Makan”.

When she was killed, we understood who she was: ritualistic chest beating started in Skardu and spread to Karachi, the grief and reaction was unprecedented, from small villages and goths poetry emerged, from Jam pur, Bhakkhar, Ghotki, Chagi, Qalat, Waziristan, not the professional poets, but the folk poets, the poets who had sung the songs of 68-69. From Morocco to Korea, From Poland to Congo, From Brazil to Bulgaria creative responses emerged, poetry, music, painting cartoons.

Patti Smith , is also one of those strange people. She is called grandmother of the punk rock”. The western Pop, punk, rock, metal are very political movements, linked with resistence and people politics and peace. This is again the politics mingled with music and romance. Patti Smith delievered an improvised tribute to Benazir Bhutto in New York.

Patti Smith is inducted into the “Rock n Roll hall of fame” and is named a “commander” of “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by Ministry of Culture, France.

Here is the poem by her:

 A Tribute To Benazir Bhutto by Patti Smith

wander i go
where chestnut least fall
where had i gone
wades through the trees
with a poem on my sleeve
where have i gone

saw the picture
of a young girl
younger than me
dark haired
and the bright smile
she was walking with her father
in her small village
in far off pakistan
and her father
in the political heart
weeps some blood
to his daughter
she watched him proudly
as he shook the hands of the young girl gandhi
and she saw her life before her

she went to oxford
she went to cambridge
and she was shy and intelligent
they called her ‘pinkie’
she returned to her village

well it doesn’t matter what the story is
it doesn’t matter how it goes
she was a girl with a bright smile and a destiny
had a mission
some of it moulded into democracy
some of it corrupt
some of it innocent
some of it failing
she spent time in prison
she raised her children
she made mistakes
but she wore her veil proudly

she wore her scarf a little like jeanne moreau
she didn’t hide beneath it
she didn’t apologize for it
she tied it and looked beautiful

she could walk into a party
dressed like maria callas
and still have a vision for her people
pretty pretty girl
the men around her
corrupt, greedy who she loved
caused her to fall but she rose back up
because if nothing else
she would empower the women around her
she would give them something behind a smile

she tossed her hat into a dirty arena
because all of politics is filthy,
it’s all filthy
but behind her smile
there was some sense, some sense of hurt
some desire to do something good
and now she’s dead

and the flames shoot
and the people died around her
and what the fuck is it all for
it’s because she was alive
she had a vision
and she died
and others will come
and others will die
and we will keep
we will keep
searching and peeling skins
till we get it right
for just the moment
just a moment
of clarity
just a moment of peace
just a moment of pity
pretty pretty girl
now gone

why should we not follow
why should we not follow
wander I go
where chestnut least fall
where have I gone