Bhutto’s Former Schoolmate Feels Loss in Arizona
By Yusuf Bhuvad
As hundreds of thousands attended the burial of Benazir Bhutto at her family's graveyard Friday, the unprecedented coverage of this tragedy continued in the US media too.
Mr. Arif Kazmi, a prominent member of the community, who grew up in Larkana and went to the same school as Benazir Bhutto, shared his thoughts with the Arizona Republic in the following news item written by Leigh Munsil. Entitled ‘Former Schoolmate of Bhutto in Arizona Feels Loss,’ the article states:
Arif Kazmi cried as he tried to summon words to describe fallen former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
"She was a wonderful lady," he said. "We lost a very good person."
Kazmi, now a civil engineer with the Arizona Department of Transportation, grew up with Bhutto in Larkana, a small town in southern Pakistan.
"Her father was a great friend of my father," he said.
Kazmi used to talk with Bhutto at family gatherings, he said, usually about education and cricket.
They went to the same boarding school in the mountains of northern Pakistan, in the Murree hills, when he was between 10 and 17.
"She was a year or two younger than me," he said.
Bhutto went to the girls' part of the school, called the Jesus and Mary Convent, and he went to Lawrence High School, Kazmi said.
"She used to be a shy person when she was in school, I remember that," Kazmi said. "She was not so outspoken."
Still, Kazmi said Bhutto was "a graceful lady," even at a young age.
The transformation from shy teenager to world leader was solidified when her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 by his political successor.
"I'm sure that changed her entire life," Kazmi said. "That was a turning point for Benazir, I'm sure."
Kazmi, who moved to the United States in 1974, said he received between 10 and 12 phone calls from relatives and friends in Pakistan after her assassination Thursday morning.
"It was just devastating," he said. "They just are crying, they are weeping. They want to share with me and I want to share with them.
"They are very grieved."
Kazmi said it's too early to tell what will happen in the upcoming Pakistani election, but said that the country would be in chaos for at least the next few days.
Bhutto's death is "a great setback to the country and to the progress it could have made," Kazmi said.
"She was a very good figurehead, she was a very good leader," he said. It will not be easy for the Pakistan People's Party to fill Bhutto's place, Kazmi said.
"We were going toward progress and peace," he said. "We are going backward now.
"We had hope in her."
Kazmi said he plans to go back to Pakistan in January or February to be with his family and pray at Bhutto's grave.