Tuesday May 21, 2024

Jump for humanity

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
April 19, 2024
Late Benazir Bhuttos daughter Asifa Bhutto Zardari addresses the Christian community in Bihar Colony on January 23, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP
Late Benazir Bhutto's daughter Asifa Bhutto Zardari addresses the Christian community in Bihar Colony on January 23, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP 

After winning the national election, when Mohtarma Aseefa Bhutto Zardari reached the National Assembly to take oath, for a moment everyone felt that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed had entered parliament. Aseefa is the granddaughter of Pakistan’s first elected prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and daughter of the first female prime minister of the Muslim world, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

When Aseefa started receiving greetings from the members of the National Assembly, everyone called her ‘Aks-e-Benazir’, as if time had gone back to three decades ago when Ms Benazir Bhutto used to have a dominant presence in the same National Assembly.

I remember that in the 1990s, the government of Pakistan, under then prime minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, started a campaign to protect children from polio. At the time, there was strong resistance to this from some elements. On such a critical occasion, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto came forward to bravely administer the polio vaccine drops to her one-year-old daughter Aseefa. This is how Aseefa got the honour of being the first child in Pakistan to be vaccinated against polio on the country's first National Immunization Day. Such acts of courage and sacrifice encouraged Pakistani parents who were earlier reluctant regarding the polio vaccination.

Aseefa studied at the best educational institutes in the world. In November 2014, she addressed the Oxford Union and thus became the youngest speaker, at the age of 21, to address the Union. She was also the second speaker from Pakistan. Earlier, this honour was received by her legendary mother Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Aseefa was very interested in socio-political activities during her student life. However, she started her political career with welfare and social work. During the general elections, she along with her father Asif Ali Zardari and brother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was at the forefront to spread the PPP's message to all corners of the country.

Due to her political insight and effective communication strategies, the PPP succeeded in achieving new heights of popularity at the public level. People see a glimpse of her mother in the way she dresses and talks. Aseefa actively engaged in party affairs proactively and was often seen alongside her father, Asif Ali Zardari, now serving as the president of Pakistan.

Aseefa Bhutto is said to have a very focused personality with a sound grip on international affairs and world politics. Like her mother, she is also very polite, caring and humble. She listens carefully to every word of others and appreciates the contributions of workers.

Aseefa was honoured by the United Nations as the ambassador of the polio campaign in Pakistan. Under her supervision, almost 70 per cent of the polio vaccination work was completed in Pakistan. Be it the polio campaign or any other social cause, Aseefa always works with passion and interest. She also likes to spend time with special children and persons with disabilities. She is committed to improving the healthcare system in Pakistan.

Apart from being a patriotic Pakistani, Aseefa Bhutto also identifies herself as a global citizen. In December 2013, she skydived from a height of 13,000 feet during a campaign to collect donations for severe typhoon-affected families in the Philippines. She described the fund-raising charity initiative as a 'Jump for Humanity'.

Following in the footsteps of her great mother, Aseefa Bhutto’s prominent presence in the National Assembly will be another jump for humanity to play a pivotal role in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the people of Pakistan as well as to contribute internationally in the best interest of our beloved country.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council. He tweets/posts @RVankwani