Play on Pakistan opens in New York as Benazir returns

By Parveen Chopra, IANS

New York : The day former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home after eight years of exile to a tumultuous welcome and bomb blasts, a play opened here about Pakistan’s Machiavellian politics.

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Titled “The Leopard and the Fox”, the play is inspired by British novelist, historian and political activist Tariq Ali’s 1985 BBC teleplay by the same name.

Through the teleplay, Ali had tried to tell the story of the last days of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first popularly elected prime minister, and his betrayal in a coup by his close confidante and army chief, General Zia ul-Haq.

The TV series was aborted because the BBC wanted to censor it under pressure from the British Foreign Office as Zia was at that time a NATO ally in fighting Russians in Afghanistan, Ali wrote in his 2007 book “The Leopard and the Fox – The Pakistani Tragedy”.

Noted Indian American playwright Rajiv Joseph has updated Ali’s play to include a character based on Benazir, who made headlines in 2007 for her power sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf to end her self-imposed exile.

The director of the play is Giovanna Sardelli, who has been Joseph’s long-time collaborator.

Produced by Alter Ego Productions, “The Leopard and the Fox” had its world premier at a Manhattan theatre Oct 17 and will run till Nov 3.

Asian origin actors Geeta Reddy and Ramiz Monsef are portraying Benazir and and Zulfiqar Bhutto respectively while Andrew Guilarte is playing the roles of both Zia and Musharraf.