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Bakhtawar Bhutto another dupatta-wearing politician in making?

Bakhtawar Bhutto another dupatta-wearing politician in making?
Islamabad:  The Edinburgh-educated rapper daughter of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and President Asif Ali Zardari seems set to perpetuate the image of dupatta-wearing, conservative women politicians of Pakistan.

Just like her Hermes scarf wearing mother Benazir, a dupatta is always neatly pinned on 20-year-old Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari's head to underline her Islamic identity; even as many from her generation see it as a cumbersome relic.

It is strange to see Bakhtawar, who is an aspiring rapper and has devoted a few songs to her mother, with her head covered by a dupatta.

In all her public appearances Bakhtawar has the dupatta in place, even as in her profile picture on her personal music page she is shown wearing a cap and not a dupatta.

Ditto for her younger sister Aseefa, who covers her head with a dupatta for all public appearances.

In Pakistan, the character of a woman is usually decoded from the way she wraps herself up in the 2.5 metre usually flowing fabric.

In recent years, however, the dupatta has been used more as a religious tool than as a symbol of pride.

Western-educated Pakistani women have written reams on the functionality of the dupatta.

"When I returned to Pakistan around the age of 13, I think, one of the most interesting and (later on) confusing aspects of Pakistani culture was the dupatta. My mother did a splendid job on telling me about its cultural and apparel importance along with its imperative nature in most regions of the country," wrote Mehreen Kasana on her blog.

Kasana even did a hilarious classification of dupatta-wearing women in her country.

Kulsoom, another blogger, wrote: "Growing up, I was constantly lectured for allowing my dupatta to drag on the floor, or leaving it crumpled somewhere. If I forgot to wear it, I felt brazen and uncomfortable, instantly garnering stares from those who felt the scarf was synonymous with feminine modesty."

She added: "At the same time, the dupatta also allowed me to shift seamlessly into more conservative environments, from wearing it draped on my shoulder to wrapping it loosely over my hair.

"It offered me, somewhat ironically, a sense of freedom. Therefore, as much as I'd claim a love/hate relationship with the dupatta, I cannot deny this versatility."

Though Bakhtawar is going back in time, her grandmother Nusrat Bhutto hardly ever covered her head and usually wore a sari.

Benazir was forced to cover her head when she returned to Pakistan in 1986 during Gen Zia-ul-Haq's rule.

Though many thought that the dupatta did not represent the liberal and progressive Benazir, others thought it was the right move in the post-Zia era.

A woman politician, Zil-e-Huma Usman, was shot dead at a political rally because she had not covered her head.

Former information and broadcasting minister Sherry Rehman is perhaps among the few women politician who refuse to cover her head and are totally unapologetic about it.
Story First Published: August 06, 2010 18:53 IST

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