Why Benazir's brother finds family ties a trial

Missing Persons No 1 Murtaza Bhutto

It is not easy for Murtaza Bhutto, having an older sister who is the Prime Minister of Pakistan. When Benazir Bhutto came to power, many thought she would help out her errant younger brother, who faces the death penalty on 78 different charges of terrorism and hijacking brought against him by the old military dictator.

Not quite. "The government," he says, trying not to refer to his sister, "is treating me like a mortal enemy. I'm not getting a fair trial. The government doesn't want a situation where I'm acquitted."

Mr Bhutto claims that after he was given bail by the chief justice of Sindh province, Nasir Aslam Zahed, the government sacked the judge within 24 hours. Mr Bhutto also accuses "the government" of torturing his trial witnesses and scaring away police officers who were ready to testify in his favour.

In a telephone conversation with Mr Bhutto, in his Karachi mansion, the line repeatedly snapped, as though wire-tappers were busy. "You can bet they'll know about this conversation before your article is even published," he said.

It has been difficult for Mr Bhutto to find hired help. "A lot of times, when my servants leave the house, they're picked up by police and tortured for no reason," he says. His political party workers are also being harassed by police. Mr Bhutto started a party which, confusingly, is called the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the same name as his sister's.

"It's a parallel party. Benazir has deviated too much from the original ideology," Mr Bhutto insists. With a push from his heavyweight political mother, Nusrat, he was elected to the Sindh provincial assembly in October 1993, but he is distracted from his political duties by having to appear in court.

"The government is tampering with my cases. There are days when the witnesses don't appear and neither do the lawyers," he says before the telephone line goes dead again.

The feud with his older sister, he says, is only about politics. "There's no dispute over property or the family silver. It's not about personal enmity."

In a Muslim, male-dominated society, it is usually the son who is the heir. Their father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan's leader before he was overthrown by the generals in 1978 and hanged. Murtaza was studying at Oxford at the time, and responded by setting up the Al-Zulfiqar Organisation to avenge his father's death.

Bombs were planted, henchmen of the military dictator, General Zia ul- Haq, were murdered and a Pakistan International Airlines flight in 1981 was hijacked to Kabul. No proof of Murtaza's direct involvement in these crimes has surfaced, but the existence of Al-Zulfiqar was used by the army to harass Benazir and her PPP followers, who fought the dictatorship through peaceful protest.

Rival politicians dismiss Murtaza's brand of Socialism as passe in Pakistan, where Islam pervades all political thought.

Ms Bhutto has refused to speak to Murtaza for two years. Their mother, Nusrat, has tried in vain to reconcile them. "My mother tried with Benazir. She said: 'Please don't manipulate the courts against him, let him have a fair trial at least.' But Benazir doesn't listen."

Karachi is being torn apart by ethnic violence, and many murders have happened even in Murtaza's fashionable neighbourhood: "The government won't let me protect my wife and children ... It was too much of a risk for my children, so I've sent them off to Damascus. But I'm staying on.

"The government treats me as a mortal enemy. And after all they've done to me, I've become one," he adds.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open