Best Defense

The Persian mistress at the breakfast table: Tales of the Bhutto childhood

This note from a genuine old AfPak hand arrived over the weekend. Yup, I’ve ordered the Rushdie novel : You surely know that one of the most psychologically formative experiences for the young Benazir was growing up in a house where her father (Zulfikar) gave his Persian mistress pride of place in the home. Benazir ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

This note from a genuine old AfPak hand arrived over the weekend. Yup, I’ve ordered the Rushdie novel :

You surely know that one of the most psychologically formative experiences for the young Benazir was growing up in a house where her father (Zulfikar) gave his Persian mistress pride of place in the home. Benazir would come to breakfast with her father and mistress at the table while her mother ate from a tray quietly and alone in her bedroom in another wing of the house. When one tries to understand how Benazir came to have her husband kill her brother, it helps to know what a strange childhood she had. Salman Rushdie’s thinly-veiled roman a clef about the Bhuttos and Zia, Shame, captures some of this atmosphere quite well. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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