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Blood & Destiny Assassinations that changed history of South Asia

world Updated: Apr 02, 2010 21:46 IST

What if Indira Gandhi had not been shot? What if Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had not been hanged? What if Sanjay Gandhi had not died in a plane crash? What if Murtaza Bhutto had not been murdered? And Rajiv, and Benazir…

The political history of South Asia is full of these what-ifs. It’s not only India and Pakistan — Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have had their national narratives edited in blood by their own tragic assassinations.

In India, it’s the Nehru-Gandhi family that has lost generation after generation to political murders. In Pakistan, it’s the Bhuttos.

Songs of Blood and Sword, a memoir by Fatima Bhutto, the attractive 27-year-old granddaughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is being launched by Penguin India in Delhi this evening.

Fatima will read excerpts from the book and participate in a panel discussion organised by Caravan magazine on Altered Histories: The Legacy of Political Assassinations in South Asia tomorrow. The other panelists are Vir Sanghvi, advisory Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times, and political critic Ashis Nandy.

Fatima’s book is already ruffling feathers back home in Pakistan. In it, Fatima has said that the killers of her father Murtaza are now leading the country. Asif Ali Zardari, her aunt Benazir’s husband, is now President of Pakistan. Benazir herself was Prime Minister when Murtaza, her brother and political rival, was killed. Benazir herself was assassinated in 2007. Her killers, like her brother’s, have not yet been apprehended.