Zareen Bukhari’s illustrious literary background

Published June 24, 2022
Zareen Ara Bukhari with Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari 
and Nusrat Bhutto in a memorable picture.
Twitter / BilawalBhuttoZardari
Zareen Ara Bukhari with Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and Nusrat Bhutto in a memorable picture. Twitter / BilawalBhuttoZardari

KARACHI: Not many are aware of the fact, even those who are keen followers of Pakistani politics, that Hakim Ali Zardari’s second wife, Zareen Ara Bukhari, who passed away on Wednesday, came from a prominent literary background.

Fondly known as Timmy Bukhari among her friends and admirers, she was the daughter of eminent broadcaster, poet and director general of Radio Pakistan, Z.A. Bukhari, who was instrumental in shaping the cultural and artistic landscape of Pakistan after the country gained independence.

She herself had a deep interest in literature and was a known figure in the literary and social circles of Karachi.

It is believed that Ms Bukhari was the first Pakistani woman to have obtained a PhD degree in literature from Cambridge University.

Being the daughter of a man of letters and herself an avid reader of books, those who were close to her claim that she had correspondence with giants of 20th century English Literature, including poet T.S. Eliot and novelist E.M. Forster.

One of the reasons for the epistolary communication could be that both the men had a fondness for oriental cultures. Eliot’s masterpiece The Wasteland focuses on the spiritual hollowness of the West and the richness of the East, and Forster’s novel A Passage to India was written against the backdrop of colonialism and the mysteries surrounding the subcontinent.

Talking to Dawn from Islamabad, poet Iftikhar Arif said, “She was a very cultured woman. Apart from literature, she liked classical music. She herself was a classical personality. She was the daughter of Z.A. Bukhari and the niece of Ahmed Shah Bukhari Patras, the greatest satirist and humorist in Urdu literature.”

Ms Bukhari was the step mother of former president Asif Ali Zardari and a dear friend of the late Nusrat Bhutto.

According to historian, researcher and poet Dr Aqeel Abbas Jafri, it was Ms Bukhari who went to Ms Bhutto with the suggestion that Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto get married. Nusrat Bhutto valued her friendship with, and opinion of, Ms Bukhari a lot.

As a mother, Ms Bukhari was known to be an extremely affectionate person. Her death has deeply saddened her family and friends.

Laid to rest

The funeral prayers of Zareen Ara Bukhari were held at Zardari House in Nawabshah before she was laid to rest in her ancestral graveyard, Baloo Ja Quba, in Shaheed Benazirabad district on Thursday, Qurban Ali Khushik reports from Nawabshah.

Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and a number of Ms Zareen’s family members and relatives; notables of the Zardari community, besides Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, federal and provincial ministers and prominent PPP leaders attended the funeral prayers and burial.

They laid floral wreaths on her grave and offered Fateha.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also offered fateha and laid floral wreaths on the graves of Hakim Ali Zardari and Bilquis Begum at the graveyard.

Later, they returned to Zardari House where many prominent political figures coming from across the country called on the bereaved families to offer their condolences.

A Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) delegation led by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Rauf Siddiqui also visited Zardari House and offered condolences to Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and close relatives of Zareen Bukhari.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2022

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