BENAZIR Bhutto who had fought two military dictators with exceptional courage and wisdom, will long be remembered as a symbol of struggle for democracy. Both under General Zia and General Musharraf, she was like a candle that continued to defy the darkness and the wind, till snuffed out on December 27 last year. However, before she died, she had created political conditions that were to finally force the military ruler to quit. Her death was avenged exactly the way she had desired, by removing the dictator and ushering in democracy. Ms Bhutto had the benefit of entering politics while inheriting the mantle of her charismatic father. Within years, however, she grew into a leader in her own right. She had her baptism of fire when she was kept under house arrest, and then jailed, as a young girl by Zia. She subsequently managed to go abroad, from where she continued to defy the dictator only to return to Pakistan in 1986 amid a thunderous welcome that equally amazed her friends and foes. She soon proved that she was as good in talks as in agitation. A rare mixture of firmness and flexibility, she discarded the dead tissue that had gathered around the PPP while she agreed to work in the MRD with some of the politicians who had struggled against her father and finally brought over to her side figures like Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan and Malik Qasim. Fighting pro-Zia politicians buttressed by the ISI, she led her party to victory in the 1988 and 1993 elections. While in political exile, she kept in close contact with her party leaders, workers and sympathisers through e-mail, being the only politician anywhere at that time to use the device so effectively. Before coming to Pakistan, she joined hands with her main political rival Mian Nawaz Sharif. Later she persuaded Mian Nawaz, who had decided to boycott the elections, not to commit the blunder, a bit of advice that brought the PML(N) out of the woods and into power in Punjab. A graduate of both Harvard and Oxford Universities, she could talk to the West with confidence buttressed by experience of a long and bitter political struggle. She was not only the first woman Prime Minister in the Muslim World, but also spoke the idiom the West could understand. Towards the end of her life she tried to act as a bridge between the West and the Muslim world. She argued that support extended by the former to dictators had weakened nascent democratic forces in Muslim countries, promoting extremism and terrorism. She argued that democracy had to be supported to eradicate these tendencies. The argument gradually started sinking in. Only time will show if those who have taken her place are able to fill the wide gap created by her departure. The best tribute to Benazir is not naming places after her or declaring a public holiday in her memory, but to follow policies that really strengthen democracy.