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.