Benazir Bhutto Award for Democracy: Zardari honours Aung San Suu Kyi

Published: January 25, 2012

Zardari awards the leader known for her 22-year long struggle for democracy. PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday presented Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi with an award in recognition of her long struggle for democracy as he visited the military-dominated country.

“I’m sure she will be this century’s leader to be remembered by the coming generation,” the president said as he bestowed on the opposition leader the Benazir Bhutto Award for Democracy, created in memory of the assassinated former prime minister.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has spent most of the past two decades under house arrest. She was released from her latest stint of detention just days after 2010 elections, following half a century of outright military rule.

“We want to stop as far as possible the suffering of families in our country,” Suu Kyi said at the award presentation in Yangon.

“I hope the day will come when our two countries will be able to cooperate very closely to ensure that the rights of families and people everywhere are safeguarded by sound, secure values.”

Suu Kyi held about 45 minutes of talks with President Zardari in private.

Pakistan has been ruled by generals for around half its existence and Suu Kyi’s past has resonated strongly with democracy advocates there.

President Zardari’s own relations with the military are increasingly tense amid allegations that a secret memo was written at his behest last May in a bid to prevent a feared military coup.

The president is under huge pressure at home with the courts trying to re-open corruption cases against him in Switzerland and a probe into the Memogate scandal.

He held talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein in the capital Naypyidaw on Tuesday on upgrading relations, and promoting economic and trade cooperation.

A new nominally civilian government took power in Myanmar last year but its ranks are filled with former generals. Even so, the regime has surprised observers with a series of reforms, including talks with Suu Kyi, who has been allowed to stand in April by-elections, and the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Noble Tufail
    Jan 25, 2012 - 4:36PM

    good move mr.president. she should visit Pak as well. Long live Kyi.

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  • Raka
    Jan 25, 2012 - 5:38PM

    I think this is another useless tour with no diplomatic utility.

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  • sami
    Jan 25, 2012 - 6:01PM

    people in pakistan are dying from starvation and this guy goes out giving out awards. how about a award for himself for being the best president to still stick around despite public demand to step down?

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 25, 2012 - 6:22PM

    Aung San Suu Kyi is the great lady of Myanmar.

    She has spent all of her life for the restoration of democarcy in Myanmar.

    I can see that the Great Lady of is going to win the next general elections and will form a democartic government in Myanmar.

    May God save Aung San Suu Kyi.

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  • moeed
    Jan 25, 2012 - 7:25PM

    vacations paid from our tax payers money

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  • Khan
    Jan 25, 2012 - 7:27PM

    What Asifa n Bilawal is doing there on my tax money? I would love bill of their expenses from Zardari empire rather than public money.

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  • CK
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:34PM

    Its a shame to compare Aung San Suu Kyi with Benazir. Aung San Suu Kyi must be crying in her heart while receiving the award. Zardari is now trying to push all his children into his party. What is her daughter doing in the middle of them?

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  • Silent Spectator
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:45PM

    I don’t understand why everything in Pakistan has to be named after Benazir. Do us all a favor and change the name of the country to Benaziristan too!

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  • Jan 25, 2012 - 9:12PM

    It is bad to compare her with Benazir. Benazir continued the tradition of inheritance not democracy, if PPP wallas understand the term.

    Politically, it won’t be appropriate to award her out of country. President should have invited her in Pakistan.

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  • saleem
    Jan 25, 2012 - 11:09PM

    Did anyone know such an award existed?

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  • Pundit
    Jan 26, 2012 - 7:27AM

    We nust acknowledge Pres Zardari’s commitment to democracy…
    despite being so seriously sick…he has traveled to Myanmar.
    Jiye Zardari.

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  • Hasan
    Jan 26, 2012 - 11:19AM

    @Noble Tufail:
    But Aung San Suu Kyi can’t leave her country (and sometimes not even her compound!). How about some basic general knowledge when we make a comment.

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  • junaid
    Jan 26, 2012 - 3:31PM

    benazir was a leader in her own right.she inherited no party 4m her father.infact ,al ZABhutto colleagues left her against zia.she alone fought his worst dictatorial regime along with party workers. our new generation needs to do some research on how she was tortured and imprisoned under zia dictatorship.all her life she upholds the value of democracy.bhutto haters and islamists r blind by the hatred towards this brave unarmed lady we know as bibi. RIP. stay blessed,AUNG SAN SUU KYI.

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