Beginning with the trial

By Zubeida Mustafa

VICTORIA Schofield shot into the limelight in Pakistan when she visited this country to attend the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1978-79. The outcome of this visit was the book, Bhutto: Trial and Execution. Published in 1979 by Cassell, it was the first book to cover an event which was a landmark in Pakistan’s turbulent history. With the press stifled under a blanket of pre-censorship imposed by General Ziaul Haq, the people were starved for news. Schofield’s book attracted much attention and the copies which managed to find their way into the country were immediately doing the rounds to meet the demands of voracious readers.

There has to be a compelling reason for a Western writer to get interested in South Asia. In Schofield’s case the reason was her “friendship with Benazir Bhutto”, a contemporary at Oxford where the two were elected to the Oxford Union — Benazir as the president and Schofield as the librarian. When Benazir was leaving for home she invited Schofield to visit Pakistan. In the summer of 1977 came the military coup and Bhutto’s trial. Continue reading “Beginning with the trial”