A decade without Benazir Bhutto

You may call a ‘rose by any other name’ but cannot call Benazir Bhutto (peerless) by another name since her name sets fit in her personality or vice versa. Had Shakespeare been alive in 21st century, he would have conceived his magnum opus upon the tragedies relating to Bhutto family. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940), was an American novelist and short story writer. He said, “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”

The life and tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto qualifies to be a fit subject to conceive a great tragedy of world literature. After all, she was born in Bhutto family, her grandfather and father became Prime Ministers, she got her higher education from Oxford and Harvard Universities, entered politics after her father’s tragic dethronement and assassination, suffered atrocities committed by worst kind of Martial Law regime in Pakistan, provided leadership and hope to a scattered party and the nation, purged the party from the ‘infected ones’, started her career as opposition leader under a despot ruler, led a family life, married and fulfilled the demands of matrimonial life, read and wrote books and articles, contacted national and international leaders, faced and tolerated cheap political tactics and techniques, made tours on near and far places in and outside country during pregnancy and right after of the birth of her first child, did not lose her cool against the foul language, blames, removal of her elected governments, imprisonment of her husband, shahadat of her father, two brothers as well as party workers, faced discrimination and injustice throughout her life.

It is so simple to drag some words upon the life of a personality but how hard it is to undergo the above said miseries and challenges? The first hand observers know better or the person who has passed through such types of trials and tribulations. Dictators come and fade into oblivion while the leaders like Bhuttos remain alive in hearts after their demise.

There are politicians and politicians in Pakistan. However, all of them claim to be loving and caring towards the nation. We can judge the veracity of their claim from the dichotomy of choice -whether they sacrifice their lives on principles or sacrifice their principles to save their skins. It goes without saying that the rival of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto chose the latter. That’s the reason we can say that history repeats itself but not the people like the Bhuttos.

Being a human we are quite helpless in the selection of our birthplace, time and family but we are free to pick the death of our choice if we live by principles. So did Benazir Bhutto who after Karsaz carnage at Karachi, was well aware of the price she was going to pay for her presence in Pakistan at a time when the country was in the eye of the storm.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto which took place on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi, was a major blow to the democracy and federation of Pakistan. Beyond doubt she was the democratic chain connecting the four provinces of Pakistan (Charon Subon ki Zanjeer) and it was proved on the day of her death when the connecting chain disappeared and the country wavered like a rudderless boat in stormy sea. Pakistan had been giving a glimpse of lawless land. How long had the horrible situation prevailed if Asif Ali Zardari would not have raised the slogan, ‘Pakistan Khappey’? God knows better.

Its repercussions we still see even after the lapse of a decade. Today no leader can claim to be the democratic chain connecting the four provinces of Pakistan (Charon Subon ki Zanjeer). The question arises: Shouldn’t there be a democratic leader like Benazir Bhutto to bind all the provinces in a single democratic chain? Here comes Bilawal Bhutto to play his role in the national politics of Pakistan. Like her mother who inherited the people’s politics from her father Shaheed Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto was trained by her shaheed mother herself.

Despite suffering all kinds of pains and predicaments, she never lost her patience and remained cool and calm at a time when she was able to avenge the murder of her father from the dictator. After years long exile, she landed on Lahore airport in 1986. A sea of people from all the corners of Pakistan welcomed her. That was the time when she could make a bloody revolution happen against the dictator. She was advised to do so but she declined the proposal since she did not want to see the people dying in struggle against the despotic government.

Prior to her assassination, her rivals were committed for rendering her character assassination. In this world of consequences, she avoided to pay in the same coin to her rivals when she got a chance to do so. Even she asked his workers to abstain from mocking a lady from the opponents’ rank. Like her father and father of the nation, she believed in neat and clean politics. Once Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was presented the secret letters exchanged between Nehru and Mrs. Mountbatten for political use. Mr Jinnah refused to use nasty and blackmailing tactics in politics.

Being a foreseeing lady, she condemned the menace of extremism from the day first. The time proved and endorsed her anticipation. The extremism did not take long time while turning into terrorism. Now the genie is out from the bottle and the armed forces along with government are struggling to put it back into bottle. How long it will take time, it remains to be seen.

She always strongly supported the case of Pakistan all over the world. She was expert in foreign policy and could deter the political moves against Pakistan on world forums or else. At present, no leader from the government can play this role in the international arena.

During her tenure, she tried her best to empower the lower and deprived classes such as minorities, women and children. For this purpose, efforts were made in and outside the parliament. She was the staunch supporter of media freedom and adopted liberal policy for freedom of press during her days in power.

Now a decade has been passed without Benazir Bhutto. One can compare a decade- old-Pakistan with the present-day-Pakistan. With martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto, the era of Oxford or Harvard qualified leadership has ended. This is the domain where Pakistan beat several developing as well as developed countries of the world since she was even more qualified from several western leaders. Only Bilawal Bhutto Zardari seems to fulfil the gap created from the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto since a phoenix can rise from the ashes of a phoenix.


The writer is a freelance columnist.

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