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Daughter's tribute to Benazir leaves Pak unmoved

A rap song written by the daughter of Benazir Bhutto, is making waves on video sharing website YouTube and in the international media, but most at home seem unimpressed.videoWatch

world Updated: Jan 08, 2009 13:10 IST

A rap song written by the elder daughter of Pakistan's slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in which she pours out her grief, is making waves on video sharing website YouTube and in the international media, but most at home seem unimpressed.

I Would Take the Pain Away is the chorus Bakhtawar, 18, raps in English - a language understood only by Pakistan's elite.

As world shares the novice rapper's sorrow, the majority of Pakistanis are surprised by the teenager's atypical tribute to her mother. For the vast rural population steeped in Islamic religion, rap is something completely foreign.

"Anguish filled everyone's heart following Benazir's assassination, but a rap song to commemorate the tragedy is something unforeseen," said Abdul Majeed, as he scooped gravy at a roadside eatery in Islamabad. His reaction is probably typical for most Pakistanis.

Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is said to have released the song with an accompanying video to a newly-launched private television channel on the eve of the first anniversary of her assassination in a bomb-and-gun attack Dec 27, 2007, at an election rally in Rawalpindi.

Film footage and still images traces Bhutto's last days as Bakhtawar tries to express her great loss and that of her siblings - Bilawal, 20, and Aseefa, 14.

The song was later posted on the video-sharing website YouTube and also repeatedly played on state-run Pakistan Television (PTV).

The fact that Bakhtawar's father Asif Ali Zardari is now the country's president with the PPP leading a coalition government aroused a controversy over the song's airtime on PTV.

"Using the state media to air a personal tribute is utterly disputable," said Mohammad Farooq, a shopkeeper.

Still many believe the matter should not be adjudged in terms of politics.

"These are sincere words coming from a mourning daughter, who lost her parent to terrorism," said computer engineer Salman Ahmed.

Bakhtawar used "crazy courage" and "epitome of benevolence" as metaphors to recall Bhutto's return from eight years of self-exile to contest the elections, termed the final phase of transition to democracy by then president Pervez Musharraf.

"My mother was murdered. I don't even comprehend. Was it worth dying for? I'm walking through screened doors," Bakthawar, a student at Britain's Edinburgh University, laments.

"No comfort or ease. I'm begging you please, God bless the deceased," she sings.

The teenager's first music production, which has been viewed by more than 50,000 people, attracted attention from international media, with dozens of reviews appearing this week. "While Bakhtawar's dirge-like rap is unlikely to secure her a Grammy of her own, the seemingly heartfelt tribute might win her some fans," wrote British daily The Independent.

According to the newspaper, Bakhtawar is a keen music fan and was apparently encouraged to sing by her mother. She once asked a journalist friend in the US to introduce her to Grammy Award-winning rapper and music producer Puff Daddy.

"The tribute is sweet. But this girl isn't street," wrote a blogger, commenting on the teenager's efforts.

Pakistan's Minister for Information Sherry Rehman, who remained close to Bhutto until her death, said music was Bakhtawar's pastime but not a prospective career.

First Published: Jan 08, 2009 12:23 IST