Pervez Musharraf boasted himself to be a tough commando who would not bend and change his decisions under pressure. He may have been right; it may not be easy to pressure him to take decisions but it now seems that it was not difficult to make him change his mind. You only needed right arguments to convince him; a respectful letter, a bottle of premium whisky and a pack of Havana cigars are convincing enough arguments to melt the “man of steel”. If it was from a tabloid, the authenticity of the story could be questioned. But this has come from a respected journal like Foreign Policy.
In their article in the latest edition of the magazine, Duane Baughman and Mark Siegel narrate that the story of Benazir‘s life includes hijackings, corruption allegations, unsolved murders, and countless conspiracies. In deciding to translate her life to film, they came in contact with Musharraf but convincing him to appear on film was not easy. The effort took a respectful letter, followed by a bottle of Chivas Regal and Cuban cigars delivered to his hotel suite in Philadelphia, where he was speaking on a tour of the U.S. to rehabilitate his image. With much flattery and a bit of arm-twisting, he was ready for a short interview.
While narrating the film-making, they list down a series of serendipitous events which contributed to the making of Bhutto. While filming the convent where Benazir was educated, the filmmakers unexpectedly stumbled upon her teacher, an elderly nun who charmingly described Benazir’s rarely examined early years. When Karachi’s chaotic streets prevented the film crew from reaching the airport to catch the only daily flight to Benazir’s mausoleum, they were saved at the last minute by a phone call from President Zardari, who held the plane — and its agitated Sindhi passengers — on the tarmac for over an hour until the film crew was safely aboard.
One of the sponsors of the film and the co-author of the referred article is a close friend of BB. The image being projected in the film, therefore, is of Benazir who was a rare and gifted leader who bridged religions, genders, and continents. She inspired millions of women to stand up against oppression and reject illegitimate restrictions on what they could achieve and who they could become. She built the first women’s police department in Pakistan, establishing for the first time a safe space where their legal grievances would be heard. She opened up the country to the international media, empowering Pakistan’s domestic media to be more vigilant. Agree or not with her politics, her story helps us better understand her country, how we got here, and why our relationship with South Asia is inextricably tied to the future of Pakistan.