Remembering Benazir Bhutto

Published: December 26, 2010
The writer is a member of the National Assembly and media adviser to the president of Pakistan

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and media adviser to the president of Pakistan

Three years ago today, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. It was a dark day that indelibly changed the direction of Pakistan and I am torn both by personal and political reflections.

I was blessed and honoured not only to assist Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in the field of communications but also to know her personally. So for me, December 27 is doubly tragic — I miss her skill, her leadership, what she could have accomplished politically for our people. But I also miss her laughter, her humour, her loving attention to her family and her friends. I miss her every day, and I weep for all the ‘might have beens’ if she hadn’t been so brutally assassinated ahead of her greatest electoral triumph.

Some in our chattering class, speaking from the comfort of their couches and their salons, gossip and criticise and dismiss her accomplishments. How many of them — if they had her brilliance, her education at Harvard and Oxford, her beauty, her youth, her family wealth, her loving husband and children — would have sacrificed everything out of personal responsibility and commitment to the people of Pakistan? She had everything to live for. She could have had a life that anyone of us would have only dreamed of. Yet she came back fearlessly to lead us because of her faith in God and the people of Pakistan.

There are tens of thousands of primary and secondary schools across our country that were built during her government. There are thousands of villages that got electricity. There is healthcare in our rural areas because of her programme of 100,000 women health workers being trained in nutrition and pre and post-natal care. There are women abused by domestic violence who can now go to women’s police stations for help. There are computers, fiber optics, cell phones, access to CNN and BBC, an uncensored media and an independent civil society because of her vision. And there are 90 million women in Pakistan who refuse to accept limits on their futures because she broke the glass ceiling for all of us, shattering not only the glass but her very life in the process.

On her first day in office in 1988, she freed all political prisoners, she made student and labour unions legal, she made civil society truly ‘civil’ again, she uncensored the media and opened it, for the first time in Pakistani history, to the political opposition.

And all of that was on her first day. During the 1800 days that she served as our prime minister, she built on this record of human rights, not only in rhetoric but in practice. She appointed women for the first time in our history to superior courts. She freed Pakistani women and girl athletes to compete in international competitions. She created a Women’s Development Bank to provide loans to women to start businesses across Pakistan.

Her accomplishments are not recognised by obscurantists because they do not agree with her vision. Some others fail to appreciate the odds she overcame.

Benazir Bhutto didn’t fear dictators or tyrants. She threw down the gauntlet to jihadists and terrorists and was the face of a modern, enlightened and loving Islam to a world that had condemned us to caricature.

She alone dared to challenge Ziaul Haq in the 1980s and Pervez Musharraf in the new century. Because of her, Pakistan strives to build a thriving and robust democracy, with our constitution restored and the vestiges of dictatorship purged from the laws of our land. No one can take that away from her. And no one will ever be able to take that away from us. Benazir Bhutto was the bravest person I have ever known. She was also the smartest, the most visionary and the most selfless. She didn’t live for herself, she lived for us. And, tragically, she died for us. For me, for Pakistan, and for the entire world, she is irreplaceable.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • karim
    Dec 27, 2010 - 9:48AM

    the nation met with a great lose…….Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Dec 27, 2010 - 11:40AM

    While Benazir Bhutto was alive, her political opponents did not leave any stone unturned to prove that her philosophy to change the fate of people in the country was not only important, but it was extremely essential to implement keeping in of the problems faced by a common man.

    Had Benazir Bhutto survived in the gun and bomb attack on December 27, 2007, she would have taken Pakistan to the height which was due for a long time.

    During the period Benazir Bhutto remained out of country, Pakistan was pushed by the undemocratic forces to face hardships and severe problems like war on terror, sectarian killings, bomb blasts, suicide attacks and insurgency.

    Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was an international conspiracy to keep Pakistan away from progress and prosperity. The vacuum created due to the tragic and untimely death of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto cannot be filled for a long time.

    It is the duty of the incumbent government to implement on the philosophy of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed) to take Pakistan in the right direction by eradicating corruption, nepotism and should work hard to take out a common man from deprivation and provide justice to the people. Recommend

  • M. Abid
    Dec 27, 2010 - 6:47PM

    Instead of missing her, you people who are in the government should have caught her killers. But no! You got bonanza as a result of her mysterious murder: Zardari became president, you became her spokesperson and your husband became Pakistani Ambassador to the USA! What a tragedy! Yes, you must remember her!!!Recommend

  • shabnum Bijarani
    Dec 27, 2010 - 11:20PM

    The following verses from Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai seem so relevent to mohtarma:

    For my country i weep and sigh,
    For my country i am ready to die,
    In prison do not my body confine;
    I, a foreigner, for my Beloved one pine,
    The earth of my mother land save,
    …and sprinkle it over my earthly grave.
    When my last moment will be at hand,
    Take my dead body to my father-land.

    ………Shah Abdul latif Bhittai.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali
    Dec 27, 2010 - 11:25PM

    I am sure Ms Ispahani and her brother in law who is ambassador in New York (Mr Haqqani) have done ALL THEY COULD DO to arrest the killers of BB without success.

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