Remembering Benazir

Published: December 26, 2011

The writer is the president’s media adviser and a PPP MNA

History will never forget December 27, 2007, a blood-stained day. The day Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was assassinated alongside her party workers after addressing a large public crowd in Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi.

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto chose death among her people rather than staying away from her homeland. She was cognisant of the dangers to her life but she refused to bow before the dictator and the terrorists. She challenged the dictator and came out on the streets of Pakistan to lead the public towards democracy and justice. She finally strengthened democracy by the sacrificing her own life, like her father before her.

Throughout her life, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto struggled against regressive forces to make Pakistan a better place for members of every sect, religion, linguistic group and community. She was loved by people of every creed, race, language and colour. From Parachinar to Karachi, she was the only voice of the oppressed people of Pakistan. She was, and is still, the symbol of the Federation of Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto Shaheed began her political career during the brutal dictatorship of Ziaul Haq. He embedded terrorism, extremism and an alien form of social norms in the country. He was the father of the armed militias who are murdering Pakistanis even today.

Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and her mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, heroically fought Pakistan’s most tyrannical dictator, Ziaul Haq.

The book, Daughter of the East, on Shaheed Benazir,  is a testimony to her relentless struggle for justice and her personal courage and valour. For six months, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was kept imprisoned in Sukkur Jail under harsh conditions. After being released, she was hospitalised for months as her health had suffered greatly. Later, she was shifted to Karachi Central Jail where she remained in prison till December 11, 1981. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s pain did not end here. She was placed under house arrest in Larkana for 11 months and then in Karachi for 14 months.

Pain, distress and difficulties were hurled on the Bhutto family, all of which were bravely borne by both, mother and daughter. Those who were once close allies abandoned them. But the workers of the PPP, the true soul of the party, went to jail, were tortured, their families were harassed but they kept the faith.

Shaheed Benazir went on to become the first democratically elected female prime minister of the Muslim world and was elected again after a prime ministerial stint by Mr Nawaz Sharif, during which, once again, Shaheed Benazir and her family and workers were hounded by false cases, propaganda and jail terms.

On her return to Pakistan, after a long exile, on October 18, 2007, two blasts hit her welcoming rally and 275 party workers lost their lives while over 600 were injured. Even this tragic episode did not deter her and she continued with her political struggle for Pakistan and its people until she gave her life on December 27, 2007.

Today, democracy exists in this country and the original Constitution has been restored because of the relentless sacrifices of the Bhutto family.

Shaheed Benazir always dreamed of a Pakistan free from poverty, terrorism, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption, inflation and sectarian violence. She persevered and struggled to make Pakistan a peaceful, progressive and tolerant, educated society.

Today, orphans are given shelters with better education in Sweet Homes of Pakistan under the legacy of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and poor women are supported economically through the Benazir Income Support Programme.

Provinces have been empowered under the Eighteenth Amendment and parliamentary supremacy has returned. Gilgit and Baltistan have been granted their due rights and changes in the FCR have been passed. Attempts to empower Balochistan have begun through the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package. These objectives of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed have been fulfilled by the PPP under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari. President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have also pursued her policy of reconciliation which has brought almost all political parties under the same roof for the betterment of the Pakistani people, the supremacy of the Constitution and the strengthening of democracy in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • buttjee
    Dec 26, 2011 - 11:21PM

    Every Pakistani remembers her with fondness. She was definitely a brave and a visionary leader. Unfortunately, instead of relying on her own popularity she relied more on the American support and paid a number of visits to US for that purpose. In order to muster US support she even went to the extent of offering them access to Dr. AQ Khan which was widely resented in Pakistan. In order to get rid of her corruption cases she struck a deal with Musharaf with the help of Americans which definitely lowered her image in the eyes of her admirers.

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  • LahoriMissingLahore
    Dec 26, 2011 - 11:45PM

    Im really tired of PPP workers worshipping benazir and making her larger than what she was, larger than life in fact. PPP needs to stop living in the past and actually do something in the present.

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  • Nom
    Dec 26, 2011 - 11:58PM

    “Every Pakistani remembers her with fondness.”

    Umm… Am I the only Pakistani who absolutely does not remember her with fondness?
    Thumbs up if you agree.

    I didnt think so.

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  • Saad
    Dec 27, 2011 - 3:44AM

    People dissenting above do not even realise that it is her struggle that has given them the right to voice this dissent against a sitting government day and night in print and on tv!

    Long live Shaheed BB!

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  • Maverick The Casanova
    Dec 27, 2011 - 4:53AM

    And here comes the heart wretching day. A cold 27th December… Tears rolling down the cheek, sky all upset.
    “Why are those with guns afraid of one umarmed girl, why is the Mullah, the trader and the overzealous general afraid of her” – Habib Jalib
    May Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s soul rest in eternal peace. She is epitome of democracy, human rights and women empowerment in the whole world.
    Her death exposed the pygmies within her party and outside. While she lived, they tormentaed/persecuted her. Steel nervers…
    You were my icon, my ideal Mohtarma… Miss and love you! Will always live within us.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Dec 27, 2011 - 6:53AM

    Thank you Farahnaz Ispahani for a good factual narration. She was not only intelligent but showed height of bravery, determination and perseverance towards treacherous Dictator. If I am not mistaken, she enjoyed being first Woman President of Oxford University’s Student Union.

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  • Kaisar
    Dec 27, 2011 - 10:45AM

    @LahoriMissingLahore:
    very well said…..

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  • LahoriMissingLahore
    Dec 27, 2011 - 12:41PM

    @Kaisar: Thanks!

    @Saad: Saad which Pakistan did you grow up in. As much as I hate musharraf, I have to admit there was more freedom for the media and a better standard of life in his time than in BBs government. BB even famously censored Junoon’s ehtesaab. It will remain an iconic example for Pakistanis. PPP workers are truly servile because they know that if they dont rever the bhuttos as gods they have no hope of progressing within PPP. A truly democratic party.

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  • Kafka
    Dec 27, 2011 - 12:43PM

    Benazir’s murder was a conspiracy against the people of this country, because they could never see her true face. Had she won the elections, she would have lead this nation to the same place where it is now in. Her two stints in power in the past were marred with corruption and mismanagement.Her murder made her a hero, which she never was.

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  • LahoriMissingLahore
    Dec 27, 2011 - 12:49PM

    correction: Ehtesaab was banned by Nawas Sharif’s government but the reason for the ban was the video’s criticism on BB and zardari. If anyone is interested they can read the article on this video on wikipedia.

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  • Mr Asia
    Dec 27, 2011 - 12:51PM

    Please remove your blinkers and see what the PPP government has become..Recommend

  • Saleem Hayyat
    Dec 27, 2011 - 5:53PM

    Mere taking PPP a political party is totally wrong PPP is an ideology, a vision and a thought, Indeed Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed were the founder of very basis of this party, but after them deeming that party is over, is absurd. Ideology can not be defeated, can not be destroyed and can not be scratched out. The leaders like Naheed Khan, Safdar Abbasi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, violated the party’s code of conduct and no party, whether it is MQM, ANP, PML-N or JI, does not tolerate breach of party laws, furthermore, aftermartyrdom of Mohtarma Shaheed, a PPP leaders, PPP given identity and name, deem that if they were national leaders and PPP can not run without their prior assistance. Infacct they forgot what happened to Leghari, Khar and Mumtaz Bhutto after they bid goodbye to party, they swayed before leaders of all the political parties and even dictators but in vain, today even you can not find their names in political wizard of Pakistan. Don’t forget PPP is still a hope and will always be a hope for the browbeaten people of Pakistan for it is the party of peasants, workers and downtrodden people of Pakistan. PPP is not an NGO it is the party having roots in all the provinces of Pakistan. You can root out something that is on earth but can not unearth and ideology that is buried in the hearts of people. Recommend

  • Nazeer Ahmed
    Dec 27, 2011 - 5:55PM

    27 December marked the 4th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. While the nation remembers her in sorrow and requiem, there is one solace in the fact that her killers must now realize that in physically removing her, their aim and objective was not served right. Like her father, she continues to remain very much in the center of the Pakistani politics and her foot-prints are there and shall remain there forever, to tease and taunt her enemies – and by extension the enemies of the people of Pakistan. Much has been written, and shall continue to be written in future also, eulogizing her and her leadership ability. However, on this day she may also be remembered for her contributions towards adding values to the Pak-China relations via many rounds of her visits, parleys, writings and the decisions that she made and took during her two stints as Prime Minister of Pakistan, to promote and culture the Pak-China relations.

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  • Sayma Mushtaq
    Dec 27, 2011 - 5:56PM

    After the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto the PPP still retains the populist politics of the Bhuttos. Zardari proved him a leader of charismatic appeal. Although After BB Shaheed PPP turned into a crowd of mourners yet Zardari decided to fulfill the dreams and ambitious of BB and in a short spam of rule, he proved him true heir of Bhuttos. He very keenly followed BB’s last campaign for a secular, liberal, democratic, peaceful and progressive Pakistan. In the leadership of Zardari the PPP is fully trying to create a liberal progressive pole against the religious right that wants to keep Pakistan as a hotbed of contending sectarian, medieval, terrorist outfits, which is at war with itself and the
    World around. I want to ask those, who constantly allege PPP for not working to materialize the dreams of BB that what else can be a better tribute than this to BB Shaheed.

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  • yousaf
    Dec 27, 2011 - 6:38PM

    I wish people agree with what the author has said in the last para of the article

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  • Ali
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:22PM

    What did BB achieve for the people of Pakistan? This is the only criteria to test her reign.
    Education levels, economic growth, health indicators, infrastructure.
    Let’s talk about these factors and stop wasting time eulogizing people.

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  • Ali
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:33PM

    @yousaf: pp
    The 18th amendment makes promises the government will not deliver..
    For example it promises education to every young person. Yet that is impossible if the government doesn’t tax the feudal elites that make up a big percentage of the PPP powerbase and other rich people in the country. There simply isn’t the money in order to fulfill these promises otherwise.

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  • Chief "Saab"
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:39PM

    Farahnaz, besides your annual article on BB’s death anniversary what else are your duties? I am sick and tired of hearing about what she did and how great she was. Let’s talk about what you guys have done since your government came to power. From one scandal to another, your government has weakened the national institutions like never before. The economy has deteriorated, the jobs have disappeared, wealth squandered, inflation skyrocketed, and everything else either diminished or eliminated. Enough is enough!Recommend

  • Ali
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:40PM

    An example of the difference between intentions and actions is the following:
    The parliament, full of the PPP nawabs voted to build 30 million dollar lodges for politicians.
    They were considering spending billions of rupees on bullet proof Mercedes.

    This in a country with one of the largest uneducated populations in the world.
    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the mis management of our government. They cut the HEC budget but refused to tax the rich. Is this good governance???

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  • Fayyaz
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:47PM

    In eastern nations where women are facing social taboos, there are signs of change in Asiatic societies. They have given birth to celebrated women with charismatic personalities. MohtarmaBenazir Bhutto was one of them. As a student of social sciences and politics, she had shown keen interest in the international system of nations. Truly, she exhibited a brilliant mind during her studies abroad and when she returned to her homeland, she helped the great leader, her father Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
    When General Ziaul Haq took over, she had to go through unbearable pain and sorrow. Her loving father and public leader was hanged, her brothers were exiled, one of whom was trapped and killed in France, her mother Nusrat Bhutto was jailed in various prisons and tortured mentally, but Benazir Bhutto always looked in high spirits. Facing the hardships of martial law, she led the public towards the path of democracy in her prison and exile days. Moreover, it was a political miracle when Benazir became the first woman prime minister of the country. Benazir never lost her confidence and the public witnessed her leadership qualities. In both her tenures, Benazir always encouraged women to become masters of their destiny to uplift themselves in education, employment, etc. She always remained a source of inspiration for all. Benazir Bhutto left an international legacy of leadership. She had ideas to bring change in the lives of labour, students and the women of Pakistan. She once said, “You can imprison a man, but not an idea, you can exile a man, but not an idea, you can kill a man, but not an idea.”
    We do not have enough words to pay tribute to our sister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

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