Benazir Bhutto Shaheed
In the history of democracy, the emergence of Benazir Bhutto, a 35 years old western, unveiled, sophisticated, Muslim woman as the Prime Minister of Pakistan – the second largest Muslim State in the world – created a stir. It was generally believed that women could never be allowed by the faithful to assume political power. Historically, Muslim clergy has been opposing women’s political leadership and discouraging their participation in politics. This notion was deliberately promoted and popularised under the dictatorship of Zia ul Haq (1977-88) and Zia’s conservative ideology was fully backed by a politically and socially powerful clergy. She defeated the mindset in the society and the brutal dictatorship simultaneously.
Benazir was well read, exclusive in person profile and mannerism. She held extra-ordinary qualities and in her political practice amazed the whole world. Recently, the word “Leader” is re-defined in the world which has outlined several leaders, alive or dead, from the list they were thought, are ranked. But the updated parameters of judgment in the comparative study verified Benazir Bhutto as ’authentic leader’ the new term used for the great leaders.
My pride would always remain a part of democratic struggle serving under her leadership for all 30 years she struggled for democracy and human rights and against non believers of democracy. In her earlier years she had resisted alone the brutal tyranny, crazy clergy, greedy PNA_ (an alliance of 9 political parties opposing PM ZABhutto), cowardice defectors of the PPP, traditional opportunists, corrupt bureaucracy, selfish feudal and wealthy-cartels, and what not. The dictator Zia wanted to kill her father and to oust the Bhutto ladies determined to resist him in the politics. He desired to hand over the PPP, Z A Bhutto’s party, to his chosen few and use it for the ulterior motives to remain in power for a long period.
In the wake of this emerged Harvard-Oxford groomed Benazir Bhutto on the political scene of the country. Her entry in hardest politics was an epic making event in Pakistan-South Asian politics because the new entrant soon took the lead. Benazir Bhutto emergence in Pakistan politics was an unexpected event for the political pundits and most astonishing for the world when she alone challenged the dictatorship and her father was in the jail. She stood glorified by her resistance.
Her father, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Z A Bhutto, watching from the jail cell was not amazed because when she was a child her father was desperate that his daughter study in the best institution like Harvard and Oxford. As a very bright and outstanding student she was elected President of the Student’s Union, Oxford on 26 November, 1976. She enjoyed this prestigious honor being the first Asian Woman to be the President (1976-77). She had a Master Degree and Diploma in International Law and Diplomacy in 1976-77. Benazir received special attention of her father. He saw a spark in her. Benazir received political training and got a sense of mission from her father yet circumstances never allowed her father to fully provide political patronage to the young Benazir Bhutto. At the very early stages of her political maturity her father lost power and both were imprisoned. As a result they were physically separated and hardly could communicate with each other. From the death cell on 21 June 1978 when Benazir Bhutto had reached to parliament age Z A Bhutto wrote her a letter “My dearest daughter” as a birthday gift. He expressed
“But you are caught in the middle of fire – it is bad and ugly.”
In the letter he compared Benazir Bhutto with Indra Gandhi who had already served India as Prime Minister in her first tenure.
He writes in the letter, “I have no hesitation in saying that my daughter is more than a match for the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the goddess of India. I am not making an emotional subjective evaluation. It is honest opinion”.
Benazir Bhutto proved how her father was true and visionary in evaluating her. She had shown the world her clear edge leading in political practice, ability, bravery and in other comparisons with others she possessed better traits of leadership. And she had proved to be more than a match with other women leaders found in democratic history including Indra Gandhi. Actually, Benazir herself was realizing this fact and expressed in her book “But I don’t think I would change places with any woman in history (2007 – p.8)”.
She was believer of destiny. Her biography “Daughter of the East” first edition when printed was named by her the “Daughter of Destiny”. About her plunge in the politics she expressed “I did not seek leadership, it was thrust upon me. Tragedy, political circumstances, and the fores of history rallied a nation around me. I was fortunate in my campaign to lead my nation, as my name was recognized throughout the countryman the same people who supported my father’s vision of a modern Islamic democracy rallied around me to continue the struggle.”(International Leadership Day. 1997)
The message by her father was “What gift can I give you from this cell out of which my hand cannot pass? I give you the hand of people.”
In the letter dated June 21, 1978 from the death cell the mission assigned through the message is clear, “To you, my darling daughter, I give you only one message. It is message of tomorrow, the message of history. Believe only in the people, work only for their emancipation and equality. The paradise of God lies under the feet of your mother. The paradise of politics lies under the feet of the people.”
The drawn conclusions are that nobody can conquer the hearts of the people with gun and use of brutal force. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed stood resilient because of the strength of the people. The workers were the formidable force she re-organiSed. History is evident her adversaries and enemies could not fight her in the open political field and removed her physically through assassination. In the preface of her new edition of autobiography she writes,” I did not choose this life, it chose me.”
Benazir Bhutto believed to be the heroic person and epic making legendary leader figure of the folk-tales cum true who appeared as a living factor to lead the down trodden for their empowerment through democratic struggle against tyranny in Pakistan and challenged the dictatorship for emancipation of the working classes from the clutches and fought for people’s rights and restored democracy in Pakistan.
Her struggle was most fascinating and despite being a woman she won the war on democracy – alike the folk-tale “princess and the Monster”, the princess stood victorious. She was vindicated. She is still globally acknowledged in the global democracy. She miraculously led masses in a male chauvinistic dominating society against the cruel dictator. She is a folk leader of democratic resistance and resilience. I agree no other women in the world politics can take her place.
a tremendous opportunity to bring Pakistan forward was lost when she was murdered…the violence promoted by religious fanatics who kill those they disagree with has cost your country greatly…
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