When Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 she was not even 55 years old. Yet when one reflects on how she inspired a generation during her short life one cannot but marvel at it. Today the Party workers celebrate the life she lived, more than mourn her death. She has entered into the pantheon of history and stands with other towering personalities who shaped the course of history by inspiring a generation through leadership and personal example. As a student of history, she knew that eternal life is sacrificing for a cause that is larger than an individual. She believed that the noblest of all causes is to liberate humanity from tyranny and oppression. She lived and died for this cause. She opposed the tyranny of dictatorship because she believed that it was a negation of the very genesis of the country that came into being as a result of a democratic process. History had taught her that dictatorship, along with poverty and ignorance, bred extremism, militancy and violence. She knew that if not checked these elements would destabilise the country. About the connection between dictatorship and militancy, she said: "I really do think that there is at least some degree of causality that most terrorist attacks took place when the extremists did not have to deal with a democratic Pakistani government, when they operated without check or oversight. This includes both the 1993 and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Bombay blasts, the Indian Parliament attack, the attack on the US embassies in Africa and the USS Cole in Yemen." On her birthday today I wish to recall her warnings against militancy as well as her advice on how to fight it. In her signed political testament a few weeks before her assassination she warned: "I fear for the future of Pakistan," and then advised, "Please continue to fight against extremism, dictatorship, poverty and ignorance." Like her father she too has left deep imprints on the sands of history. She believed that addressing issues in poverty and ignorance required peace and reconciliation and devoted her life towards this end. She finished writing her extraordinary book Reconciliation - Islam, Democracy and the West just days before her assassination. Indeed the last page was written on December 26 soon after she returned from tour of Peshawar. She said that the radicals had distorted the peaceful and pluralistic message of Islam. She argued that this radicalisation had been further fuelled by the myopic policy of supporting some radical groups that served only short-term interests. She believed that by tolerating - indeed supporting dictators - the west had actually contributed to the rising frustration that in turn bred extremism and militancy. With her liberal western education and the experience of twice governing Pakistan she offered in the 'Reconciliation' a new vision of how to stem the rising tide of extremism and militancy and rediscover the values of tolerance and moderation that are central to our religion. Three landmark initiatives stand out as monuments to her vision and determination to address the issues of development and peace. First, the launching of private power projects to address the perennial problem of energy shortage that had stalled industrial growth and increased poverty and unemployment in the country. Second, developing and promoting the idea of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline to not only address the energy issue but also for the economic integration of the region. Third, she gave a new vision of Pakistan-India relations to promote peace and free the resources for ending the poverty of over one billion people of the subcontinent. Unfortunately for these initiatives her detractors accused her of corruption, mis-governance and even dubbed as 'security risk'. She was haunted, chased and banished into exile. It is a measure of her vision and leadership that nearly two decades later even her worst detractors have come to recognise the value of these initiatives. At the age of twenty she accompanied her father to Simla and witnessed the signing of Simla Accord which brought the longest spell of peace between India and Pakistan. Thereafter she dedicated herself to peace with honour in the region. Shaheed Bibi was an intellectual giant, a thinker and an orator. She was a friend of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed. In her last testament she commanded: "Dedicate yourselves to freeing (the people) from poverty, backwardness and ignorance." Her father was fond of saying: "It is better to live like a lion for one day than to live like a jackal for a thousand." She truly lived up to it and waded through life with remarkable courage and defying death in embracing martyrdom. Like her father she showed how a leader of the people lives and dies. She nurtured the dream of a democratic Pakistan free of bigotry, extremism and militancy. She hoped the blossoming of the people so that each individual helped shape his own destiny and was not made to suffer a fate thrust upon him by bigots and brigands in the name of religion. True to her words she led the fight against militancy, illumined the path and embraced martyrdom. Throughout the three decades from 1977 - when a tyrannical dictator first overthrew the government of her Father and later executed him - to 2007 when she was assassinated by the tyrannical militants created by the dictator she never wavered in the commitment to the people and the country. The militants and extremists want to destroy the country and our way of life in the name of religion. They are blowing up schools, butchering innocent people, killing doctors for administering polio drops, closing down businesses and digging out the dead and the buried from their grave to impose upon us their bigoted world view. To pay homage to her memory let us therefore pledge to expose the militants and fight them till the end. On this day we rededicate ourselves to the mission of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto whose life was dedicated to defending the country against dictatorship, extremism and tyranny. She shed her blood for the country. As a mark of respect let everyone on this day donate blood for our soldiers and members of law enforcing agencies whose blood has been shed in fighting militancy. Shaheed Mohtarma used to say that Pakistan had no alternative but to finish militancy and militants. If Pakistan is to prevail we must conduct the ongoing operations against militancy to its logical conclusion. We will. We must succeed against the militants for the sake of our country and our people. On her birthday I wish to assert that there simply is no other alternative. The absence of alternatives has made our mind clear. The writer is the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan