ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan People’s Party leader Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday served Rs1000 million legal notice on Syeda Abida Husain for levelling “false, unsubstantiated and tendentious allegations” against her mother Benazir Bhutto in her book ‘Special Star- Benazir Bhutto's Story’.

The notice was served through Senator Farooq H Naek, a PPP statement said.

The notice on behalf of Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, daughter of Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto, has also been sent by Senator Naek on Managing Director, Printer, Publisher, Oxford University Press and Karachi Literary Festival (festival director) Ameena Saiyid and Regional Sales Director South, Oxford University Press, Karachi Literary Festival Salma Adil.

The notice read: “That along with the author of the book and the impugned statements, its printer and publisher as well as its circulator in Pakistan (Oxford University Press), who has circulated the defamatory book via its outlets without checking and confirming the contents therein, are also liable for defamation”.

It said: “That you have irresponsibly and maliciously made, printed and published the aforesaid statements to provoke sentiments against the Bhutto and her party and to politically malign and victimize the PPP. Although our client believes in complete freedom of speech as enunciated in Article 19 of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, in negation of its true spirit, you have written, printed and published the impugned statements in the book mentioned against Benazir Bhutto and her family without having properly investigated, verified and confirmed the complete and true facts.”

It said: “Along with the author of the book and the impugned statements, its printer and publisher as well as its circulator in Pakistan (Oxford University Press) who has circulated the defamatory book via its outlets without checking and confirming the contents therein are also liable for defamation.”

It read: “That in view of the above our client is entitled to damages for mental torture, harassment, agony, humiliation which she, the workers and supporters of Pakistan People’s Party have suffered and are undergoing at present because of wrongful acts on your part individually and jointly.”

Naek said: “Our client is entitled for the following amounts for defamation due to publication — damages on account of the loss of reputation — Rs 500 million and damages for mental agony, torture and physical harassment — Rs 500 million.”

The notice also said: “That it has come to our knowledge that the printer and publisher of the above-stated book - Ameena Saiyid - is also a festival director of Karachi Literary Festival and is attempting to launch the aforesaid book through the Karachi Literary Festival on Friday 9th of February 2018. Ameena Saiyid is hereby specifically admonished to desist from launching the aforesaid book containing scandalous, libelous and defamatory statements against Benazir Bhutto on the 9th of February 2018 or any date thereafter at any venue whatsoever. Any attempt by Karachi Literary Festival to promote or propagate sales of the aforesaid defamatory book will be taken to be collusion on part of Karachi Literary Festival with author and publisher of the book, having common criminal intent to defame Benazir Bhutto which is punishable under the law and may make Karachi Literary Festival, its producer and organizer vulnerable to strict legal action.”

In his statement, a PPP spokesperson said: “Written 10 years after Benazir Bhutto's death and without offering any proof to substantiate her slanderous comments, Abida Hussain's account of Pakistan's most popular leader in generations is an insult to the legacy of Benazir Bhutto and to the sensibilities of millions of her followers.”

The spokesperson said the book begins with a “false claim in the preface by the author of being a friend of Benazir Bhutto to mislead the people.”

Like the false claim of friendship with Benazir Bhutto most of the account and anecdotes about the former prime minister are also false and full of lies, he said. The book is a manifestation of the compulsive ego of the author to steal some limelight by claiming friendship with Benazir Bhutto and behind its facade give a totally false and misleading narrative, he said.

The author's incorrigible arrogance and bloated and false ego were not the attributes that would have ever endeared her to Benazir Bhutto, he said.

“It is a pity that the author chose to write a false account about Benazir Bhutto when she is no longer around to give her a befitting reply herself and lifted the veil behind claims of friendship with her. ‘Special Star- Benazir Bhutto's Story’ is the product of a sick mind and a deceased soul. It is an outrage that is challenged,” the PPP spokesperson said.