UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Bhutto Family

By 2017 Bilawal Bhutto had actively assumed command of PPP and there was little doubt that he would be the front runner for the Prime Minister’s slot in 2018.

Pakistan's political system is broken: its political parties are ineffective, functioning for decades as instruments of two families, the Bhuttos and the Sharifs, two clans, both corrupt. The Bhutto-Zardari axis may be considered "left leaning," while the Sharif brothers may be considered "right leaning." The Sharifs are much closer to Pakistan's military, and to Pakistan's Muslim fundamentalists. Punjabi, the Sharifs represent Pakistan's major ethnic bloc, and the devout Sunni Sharif has an advantage over the Bhuttos, who have Shiite ties. Some viewed Bhutto's Shiite origins with suspicion. Benazir Bhutto's mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto is of Pakistani-Iranian Kurdish origin, in the same way of the Shiite Muslim faith. Her father's name, Zulfaqar, was a prominent Shiia name (it refers to the sword of the Blessed Imam Ali), and, in turn, Zulfaqar's father had lived in Iran.

The Mughal Empire administered a patchwork of fiefdoms through a system tax collectors, called Zamindar. The Bhutto clan, one of many such Zamindar tax collectors, have been wealthy time out of mind. The Bhutto clan is centered in Sindh, once the heart of the Mughal Empire. Akhbar the Great was also born in Sindh. The Bhutto clan is rajput, the hereditary warrior caste which dominates the armies of India and Pakistan to this day.

The Bhutto family traces its migration from Jaiselmere in India to Sindh to Setho Khan Bhutto in the fifteenth century AD. The Bhutto family migrated to Sindh during the reign of Mughuls when Kalhoras were ruling in Sindh under the suzerainty of Mughul Emperors. They settled and established themselves in Taluka Ratodero, District Larkana and owned vast tracts of fertile land in the District of Larkana, Jacobabad and Shikarpur. Where rice, cotton and sugarcane was produced in plant. By some accounts the Bhutto family was the biggest and wealthiest landlord in Sindh and their style of living and conducting themselves was totally different from rest of their class in Sindh; they could face any situation any adversary and dignity, and unlike many other landlords they finally believed in pomp, pageantry, dignity and authority.

These Rajput converts probably became Muslims in the 18th century. Doda Khan Bhutto headed of the family during the Talpur Dynasty, and then during Charles Napier's rule of Sindh. Doda Khan Bhutto worked to acquire large tracts of land, and was responsible for the vast land ownership of the Bhutto family. By one account Doda Khan Bhutto was described by the British as "the best and most enterprising zamindar in the whole of sindh".

Dodo Khan Bhutto was one of the most important zamindars in Sind. Doda Khan had three sons, of whom Khuda Baksh Bhutto was the eldest, and Hahi Bakhsh, and Amir Bakhsh. Pir Baksh Bhutto founded the ancestral home of the Bhutto family, Garhi Pir Baksh Bhutto. The Bhutto mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh was built by the Zamindar Khuda Bakhsh Khan Bhutto [and hugely enlarged by Benazir Bhutto]. Sardar Murtaza Bhutto built a great estate in Larkana and named it Al Murtaza [he who pleases God].

Pir Bakhsh Khan Bhutto was invited by His Highness Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur to send his son Allah Bakhsh Khan Bhutto to Khairpur where he was kept an honorable hostage at the Talpur court for five years, "to ensure that my family did not revolt." Such was the rebellion nature of Bhutto family that even the Talpurs to whom Pir Bakhsh Khan owed his allegiance and their ownership of vast areas was confirmed as a friendly gesture by the Talpur rulers, had to be vigilant about them.

The British, who were entertaining the idea of grabbing India, would not spare the Talpurs of Sindh. Against all their promises of friendship and cooperation, they conquered Sindh shamelessly in March 1843. The Talpur rulers and their families were dispatched as prisoner to Calcutta.

When the Talpurs were defeated, overthrown, imprisoned and replaced by the all-powerful Britishers, it is said that most of the landlords frightened and demoralized behaved like cringing cowards and professional flatters to please their new foreign masters. But proponets recoung that credit goes to the Bhutto family, self respecting and to an extent proud, not overawed by the powerful British rulers, and their attitude, ways and behavior were said to have remained unchanged.

Wadero (landholder) Ghulam Murtaza, Khuda Baksh Bhutto's son, was a wealthy man with estates in the Shikarpur and Upper Sind. An endless stream of legal cases was initiated against Mir Ghulam Murtaza Khan and his self respecting father, Khuda Bakhsh Khan [who died in 1896]. They had to pour money for defending against the atrocities and conspiracies of the British, supported by the sycophant Waderas (landholders). Fleeing the British, Ghulam Murtaza escaped into the independent state of Bahawalpur. But after the British threatened to seize the state, Ghulam Murtaza thanked the Nawab for his hospitality and crossed the Indus again to gain sanctuary in the kingdom of Afghanistan, where he was a guest of the royal family. In fury, the British seized all his lands in 1896, and his family was forced by the Superintendent of Police to leave their once luxurious home in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto village of Sindh Ratodero Taluka, with only clothes on their bodies.

Finally a compromise was worked out with the British and Ghulam Murtaza returned to Larkana. But his days were numbered. He became ill and began to lose weight. The hakims, or village doctors, suspected poison, though no one could find the source. He had tasters test his food and drinking water, but the poisoning continued until it killed him in 1896 at the young age of twenty-seven. Afterward, the source was found to be his hookah, the water pipe he used to smoke tobacco after dinner. Now the entire burden and responsibility of the eminent Bhutto family fell on immature and inexperienced Shah Nawaz Khan. It was now a stupendous task to look after such a big family, vast areas of lands spread in different Districts, face the family opponents and the hostile administration.

Ratodero is a sub-district city some 28 km away from Larkana in Pakistan. There are Bhutto family bungalows in the town and vast agricultural land in the surrounding area, and many of their relatives live here. The first of the Bhutto family to reside here was Rasool Bakhsh Khan Bhutto, after him Khan Bahadur Ahmed Khan Bhutto became the pagdar. Nawab Nabi Bakhsh khan Bhutto, brother of Sardar Wahid Bakhsh khan Bhutto, was the member of the Delhi Legislative, and for a time the president of District Local Board Larkano. His son Mumtaz Ali Khan Bhutto had been chief minister of Sindh and federal minister in National assembly. This city very well known by the political leaders like Sir Shah nawaz Khan Bhutto, Nawab Nabi Bux Khan Bhutto, Zulifqar Ali Bhutto (PPP), Benzir Bhutto (Chair-Person PPP), and Mumtaz Ali Khan Bhutto (Sindh National Front).

Shahnawaz Bhutto was born on March 8, 1888 in Village Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Khan Bhutto, Taluka Ratodero. Shahnawaz Bhutto was Khuda Baksh Bhutto's grandson, and the son of the Wadero Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto. Sardar Murtaza Bhutto's son Shahnawaz was sent away to school in England. When Shahnawaz returned to India in 1908, he managed to extricate himself and, through education and family background, create a position of importance for himself in British Indian society. Shahnawaz Bhutto had the reputation of being a spokesman of Sindh in British India, having been primarily responsible for the separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency. In 1925 Shahnawaz Bhutto became President of the Sindh National Mohammedan Association. The Sindh United Party, formed in 1937, drew its early leadership from such leading Muslim landowners as Sir Shah, Nawaz Bhutto, Allah Baksh, Umar Soomro and Yar Muhammad Junejo. In 1940, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto formed the Sindh Party.

In 1947 he moved to Junagadh, a small Princely State, and became the Dewan [ie Prime Minister] of Junagadh, called Dewan Shahnawaz. In the official version of the story, in 1947 Dewan Shahnawaz forced his erstwhile master the Nawab to cede Junagadh to India. Shahnawaz became Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire, and Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for his help in the partition of Pakistan and India.

Coming from a wealthy Zamindar family in the days when taxation was reasonable, and practically non-existent for the Zamindars, the Bhuttos had acquired a vast fortune. Zulifikar Ali Bhutto, the Pakistani political leader, served as President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973 and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977. In 1977, he was ousted in a military coup by General Muhammed Zia-Ul- Haq and was arrested. He was hanged on April 4, 1979 for alledgedly ordering the murder of a political opponent in 1974. His daughter Benazir Bhutto, served as Prime Minister from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 22-08-2019 18:29:22 ZULU