On December 27 every year, millions of followers, colleagues , party workers and friends who hold her very close to their hearts mourn the death of ShaheedMohtarma Benazir Bhutto with feelings of deep pain and sadness. Her martyrdom is not only a national loss but it has created a leadership vacuum in Pakistani politics and after eight long years of her martyrdom she remains the leading, inspiring and charismatic leader in Pakistani politics. She had vision for the future and ability to move forward in the worst circumstances which made her great. Benazir Bhutto, twice elected first woman PM of an Islamic country would always be remembered as a brave woman with immense qualities of tolerance, far-sightedness, perseverance. She was a great fighter for democracy and a courageous voice for justice and equality around the world.
Benazir Bhutto, an icon of Pakistani politics was a leader far ahead of her times and asymbol of a progressive andliberal Pakistan. She was a bridge between the true spirit of Islam and the Western world. Her political objective was establishment of ademocratic and a peaceful Pakistan in which people can live in harmony with equal opportunities to all. She believed that Pakistan can play an important role in bringing one billion Muslims around the world on one platform to play their effective role in bringing global peace.
She was a critical voice against extremism and was concerned about the growing teisations between different religions and communities in the world seems to be a reality with the likes of Donald Trump trumping up anti Muslim rhetoric in the western world. With Benazir Bhutto no more in the world to act as a bridge between Islam and the West!
She was convinced that democracy was never given a chance to flourish in Pakistan by the establishment, moderate forces were marginalised which gave space to extremism to emerge against the national interest. She beleived that there were madrasas which were institutes of Islamic teachings but on the other side there were thousands of madrasas nurturing young teenagers and brain washing them with hatred, intolerance ,violence and discrimination. She beleived that poverty and unemployment is a time bomb for Pakistan’s future and democracy .These are hard realities when poor parents are left with no choice except to send their children to these madrasas to feed and educate them. There is a need to reform these madrasas by providing roti, clothing, shelter and education by the state to make them proud Pakistanis. She was of the view that terrorism is not only a threat to Pakistan but its a threat to outside world too. She was unhappy over the peace agreement between the government of Pakistan and Taliban. She felt that tribal region of Pakistan should not have been handed over to foreigners i.e Afghan Talibans ,Arab Al. Qaeda , Chechen, Tajik , Uzbek and Uighurus and Pakistan should protect its own territory .Today she stands vindicated because Pakistan armed forces are in full control of every inch of our territory. She would strongly believe that democracy in Pakistan will stabilise Afghanistan.
She wanted USA to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and was critical of the unauthorised military operations against Pakistan.
She was confident that Pakistan with its geographical location can emerge as an important strategic player in the world and particularly in the South Asian region since it is linked with oil producing Muslim countries through the Persian gulf. It provides routes to Central Asian countries to reach the Indian ocean. Lot of world trade takes place through Arabian Sea and Pakistan enjoys the privilege of being a central point in that trade route with hundreds of kilometres of coastal line and deep sea port of Gwadar. She wanted to make Pakistan an economic hub of Asia by having good relations with its neighbouring countries Afghanistan on its North West, China on its North, India on its East and Iran on its West.
She believed that economic development is a core issue for sustainable democracy because it reflects the role of state for the welfare of its people. Pakistan is a vibrant country and revolutionary efforts are required to identify its socio economic problems and its solutions. She was confident that Pakistanis being a resilient nation with lots of talent and potential have the resolve to meet future challenges but it is necessary to keep a balance between resources generated and their use.
Major social issues like health care,education ,poor law and order situation, religious extremism , terrorism, social justice, civil rights , load shedding,clean drinking water, sexual abuse, equal rights for women, minorities, child labour, bonded labor and unemployment and economic issues like minimum wages, low Income were her main concerns which our people are facing today.
She was a signatory to Charter of Democracy because she believed that military dictatorship has done fatal damage to Pakistan in the past. It has undermined the democratic institutions and put the unity of the federation under serious threat. PPP being a major political party of Pakistan having support in all the federating units including AJK and Northern areas holds responsibility to its countrymen to pull the country out of this crisis and bring it back to stability.
Her period of exile from 1999 to 2007 was a time of great change around the world and she had learnt a lot during that period. As we entered the new millennium and the uni-polar world saw its power centre attacked on 9.11.2001 the face of politics changed. Her leadership enabled her to understand the changing concepts of politics and she emerged with a more clear vision to lead Pakistan.
After escaping October 18 attempt on her life, which killed 178 party workers who were bravely guarding her truck, she visited the hospitals the very next morning without security and then went to Lyari to condole with those who had lost their dear ones. She was moved by their love and emotions the families had for her. After seeing all this, her resolve became stronger to save Pakistan from the forces of extremism and militancy.
Millions of her followers admire her conviction to the poor people of this country, her integrity and moreover, her deep love for Pakistan. Her identification with the poor and downtrodden masses of this country was a unique quality of her leadership. Her vision to promote youth in the party was a novel idea since she felt that they are future of Pakistan and now 65 per cent of the youth will have to give new dimensions to the future politics of a bright and prosperous Pakistan.
In her last speech on December 27 at Liaquat Bagh she said, “I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of the crisis.”
All her life she struggled against the forces of oppression and ultimately sacrificed her own life restoring political dynamics of this country. She always wished that her legacy should be remembered as a peace maker in the world.
I am not sure whether truth of her murder will ever come out but all those who want to hide this heinous crime will never be forgiven by history. Moreover, they must not forget that there is a God above all of us. She was killed but no one can kill her legacy which her followers will carry on with determination and perseverance to keep her mission alive.
In the end I would like to add that we all are proud of our armed forces for their sacrifices by confronting the terrorists but at the same time Pakistan needs stable democracy. There is a need for good and balanced civil military relationship in country’s defence. This is the only way we can pay tributes to our martyrs and to all those who were made victims by the terrorists and sacrificed their lives to save Pakistan.
Bibi millions of your followers will always remember you because of your commitment with the poor people of this country, your integrity and moreover your deep love for Pakistan . Long live Bhutto Long live Pakistan
The writer had been Political Secretary to Chairperson Pakistan People’s Party Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.