KARACHI: For Mark Siegel December 27 is always going to be a difficult day to get through. This year, on his friend Benazir Bhutto’s fifth death anniversary, however, he felt a sense of pride as he saw her son make his first major political speech.
“I believe there is going to be a shift in politics now,” he said over the phone from Washington. Bilawal is an emerging politician and will be successful.
Siegel is an American lobbyist who was the former prime minister’s speech writer for two decades and helped her update her autobiography ‘Daughter of Destiny.’
“It’s been five years, and I still don’t believe it,” he said. “The term ‘jeay Bhutto’ means a lot to us, it means that she is still alive.”
Siegel, who caught snippets of Bilawal’s speech which was in Urdu, has known him since he was a child. It is a little strange for him to call him a man now, he remarked, adding, however that the speech should not be seen as the launch of his public career as Bilawal has been participating in politics since his mother was assassinated.
Siegel did not comment about his relationship with the young politician but said that Benazir always wanted Bilawal to be happy and have choices. “His happiness was her first priority,” he said.
“If he wanted to go into the civil services, she would have supported him with her whole heart. This is why in her handwritten will she left the chairmanship of the party to her husband and not Bilawal.”
Siegel also knows Bakhtawar and Aseefa. “I am proud of all three of them - with their father in jail and their mother running a party alone and watching her die in front of their eyes - I cannot imagine a more traumatic childhood.