x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Body of Bhutto's mum flown to Pakistan on Sheikh Mohammed's plane

The body of the mother of Benazir Bhutto was flown to Pakistan aboard Sheikh Mohammed's private aircraft.

DUBAI // The remains of Benazir Bhutto's mother were returned to Pakistan this afternoon aboard the private aircraft of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Nusrat Bhutto, 82, the mother of Pakistan's first female prime minister, died in a Dubai hospital on Sunday.

"She died at around 2.45pm on Sunday, but her body has now been repatriated to Pakistan," said Jamil Ahmed Khan, Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE in Abu Dhabi.

"Her grandchildren came from the UK and arrived this morning, and they flew out together on the same plane with the body to Pakistan at 1pm today."

Mr Khan said the body had been sent back to her native village of Naudero, Larkana in the Sindh province of Pakistan.

"The family has been deeply affected by this loss but the Pakistani community living here had flocked to the hospital to express sadness at her passing," he said.

The body will be buried at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the family's ancestral graveyard.

Mrs Bhutto was pronounced dead at the Iranian Hospital in Dubai after a long illness.

In Pakistan, 10 days of mourning have been ordered by the prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who has also cancelled his engagements. Monday was declared a public holiday.

"The national flag will fly at half mast during these days," his office said in a statement reported by Agence France Presse.

Mrs Bhutto was the widow of the country's first democratically elected leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who also founded the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). She was also the mother-in-law of the nation's current president, Asif Ali Zardari.

The AFP reported that she was born into a wealthy Iranian family that moved to Karachi before her marriage in 1951.

She was also elected as a member of parliament twice, and led the PPP until the 1980s, when Benazir took over.

She also bore witness to much tragedy in her lifetime.

Her husband was hanged by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1979, and she outlived three of her four children.

Her son, Murtaza, was shot dead in Karachi. Her son, Shahnawaz died in France, AFP reported.

Under Zia, Nusrat was put under house arrest and thrown into jail, then spent several years in exile after being allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.

She became the chairman of the PPP following her husband's death in 1979 until her daughter, Benazir, took over in 1984. Benazir was twice elected prime minister.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack at an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi in 2007.

Benazir's husband, Zardari, then led the PPP to election victory in February 2008.

 

nhanif@thenational.ae