BOOK REVIEW: Born to Be Hanged: Political Biography of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Syeda Saiyidain Hameed.

Hardcover: 270 pages
Language: English
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (20 December 2017)


This is the first time I have ever read a political biography. This is a well researched and well written book, fully loaded with anecdotes, quotes, facts, photographs, etc. I’ve learned a lot about ZAB through this book. The author beautifully draws a parallel between ZAB and Oedipus of Thebes. It’s so difficult to summarise and review this book because it’s ZAB’s entire life presented to you. So here is a short snippet of the book.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto(ZAB) was born on  January 1928 in Al-Murtuza in Larkana. He was named Zulfikar Ali because his father(Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto) wanted the child to grow up and destroy the darkness of the world like the sword of the fourth Khalifa, Hazrat Ali, who was called Zulfikar (I really enjoyed facts like these. This shows how much effort the author has taken to write this book.) It was his father who had sown the seed of politics. He wrote letters to his son which contained more political news about Pakistan than family news. Beside being a good student, ZAB was also a fine tennis, badminton and cricket player. When he was 15 years old he wrote a letter to his role model, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In the letter he had mentioned that he will sacrifice his life for Pakistan. To his delight M.A. Jinnah replied to his letter.

ZAB’s political journey began in 1955, when President of Pakistan Iskander Mirza proposed his name to represent Pakistan in UN. ZAB emerged as a national hero after his iconic speech at the UN. The Taskent Agreement was signed on 10 January 1966 by India’s Prime Minister (Lal Bahadur Shastri) and Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan. ZAB called it a humiliation and wasn’t willing to work with Ayub Khan any more. This rift led to the formation of the Pakistan People’s Party(PPP). Social justice and the establishment of a classless society were declared the party’s guidelines.

But ZAB was in a hurry. He wanted Pakistan to have international stature. He saw himself as the leader of the Islamic world. He started blaming his entire team for the lack of diligence shown by a few and that was the first sign that he was losing patience. He came down so hard on all his members. Slowly one by one all able and capable leaders began to resign from the party, and what followed was the decline of PPP. He was later arrested on charge of conspiracy of murder. All applications were rejected by the SC and he was sentenced to death.

And finally
When the day comes
When they ask you to identify the body
And you see me
And a voice says
We killed him
He is dead
When they tell you
That I am
Completely absolutely definitely
Don’t believe them
Don’t believe them
Don’t believe them
Lines from Ariel Dorfman’s poem ‘Last Will and Testament’

What I have mentioned must be like 10% of the book. The author has done a wonderful job at gathering in-depth information about each incident from various sources. We get to see two or three POVs from people close to ZAB. Towards the end, the author has also chronologically listed all the event and also contains excerpt from an affidavit filed by ZAB.
Do pick it up if you enjoy reading biographies. I enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend it.


To buy this book, click here.

**I got a copy from Rupa Publications India in exchange of an honest and unbiased review**



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s