NEW DELHI, May 22: Leader of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party L.K. Advani has said he shared a special bonding with the slain former premier, Benazir Bhutto.
Speaking at the launch of a political biography of the late chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party, Mr Advani said she had once asked him if they could converse in Sindhi.
“When she first met me, at former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s funeral, she asked me whether she could speak to me in Sindhi. She then proceeded to speak with me in Sindhi and English,” he said.
“From then onwards, we remained in contact through exchange of books and letters.”
Mr Advani recalled that his personal interactions with Ms Bhutto were rather informal. His family visited her ancestral home in Larkana for a special reception during a visit to Pakistan.
“She was quite different from the image she had built for herself in India and Pakistan.
“Benazir was a witty woman. My daughter Pratibha once told her a joke and she took a print of the joke back to Pakistan with her.”
The BJP leader said he last spoke to her in October, after her homecoming reception had been ravaged by a bombing which claimed more than 130 lives.
“The last time I spoke to her was in October 2007. And the next time, it was her husband Asif Zardari, whom I met after her assassination, to condole her death. That was the first time I saw Zardari,” said Mr Advani.
Ms Benazir always felt that an apolitical army in India contributed to the promotion of democracy in the country, he said. “She regretted the fact that there was no democracy in Pakistan.”
According to Ms Bhutto, constitutional independence guaranteed under the Indian constitution made the country’s election commission independent, he added.
The biography — entitled “Goodbye Shahzadi: A Political Biography of Benazir Bhutto” and written by one of her Oxford friends Shyam Bhatia — is based on a series of interviews recorded over more than two decades.
According to the publishers of the biography, Roli Books, only 27 hours of tape from the 100 hours available have been used for the book, which deals with almost every period of her life —from her Oxford days, years in the limelight as Z.A. Bhutto’s daughter, her years in government, to her days in exile.
Speaking of his most enduring memory of Ms Bhutto, Mr Bhatia narrated a rather chilling tale. “I have one haunting, rather shocking memory. In October, just before Benazir was returning to Pakistan, I had a strange dream.
“I dreamt I was seeing her off at the Heathrow airport, and the aircraft in which she flew had crashed.”
He said he had asked her not to return to Pakistan. “I asked her, ‘Why are you going back?’ To which she replied: ‘I have to go.’ ”—PPI
Source link- http://www.dawn.com/2008/ 05/23/top8.htm