Farzana Raja

Every moment of incessant struggle of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, her speeches as a source of strength for the people, her expression of sheer courage on the face of every threat and depiction of the inspiration of people have always been a source of strength for me.

Her great struggle and services for her beloved country could inspire any and individual in the world and her sacrifice and laying down her life is being termed a guarantee for the sustainability of the democracy in Pakistan.

This great leader of us who had persuaded the golden principles of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ought to be remembered as Quaid-e-Jamooriat (Leader of Democracy) as its merely a result of her great struggle that the democracy in Pakistan is fully vibrant and functional and striving to improve the lot of the nation with full zest and vigour.

All the spectacular moments I was privileged are a precious asset for me to spend with my Qauid-e-Jamooriat and it’s not enough whatever extent I may talk about and mention it. While writing this article, all these moments start flashing before my eyes and it’s truly provide the very basis of my life as all these moments provided me great to enhance my learning and this could be ascribed as a remarkable asset.

The unprecedented leadership and epic struggle of Shaheed Mohtrama would always remain imprinted in my kind. It is a matter of immense honor to me to be able to observe her endeavours. The level of her commitment and perseverance always provide me a source of continued guidance. The conversations with Shaheed BB during the struggle for democracy and her persistent guidance have become part of my personality.

The overall welfare of people of Pakistan, empowerment of women folks of the society and creation of new economic opportunities for the youth of the country remained her major concerns. Her reason behind the decision of coming back to Pakistan was out of deep affection for the people. She was aware of the fact that the rights of the people are not being provided in the absence of genuine democracy and hence, the integrity of federation had become under dire jeopardy. The sheer courage and bravery of my Shaheed BB could be ascertained from the fact that she had spent many of precious years of her life either under house arrest, in the various prisons of the country or in the exile but still kept voicing her truthful stance firmly. 

The last return of Shaheed Mahatma to homeland infused a great spirit in the struggle for establishing a genuine democracy in the country. While working with our great leader, we were enthused with great deal of passion and enthusiasm for the people by taking great deal of inspiration from her courage and commitment.

The cruelty and barbarian had snatched this great gift to nation from us in the tragic incident of 27th December but she would also remain a beacon of the light of democracy. The enemies of the country targeted Shaheed BB to thwart the rule of people of Pakistan while she laid her life to save the Federation of Pakistan and to safeguard the rights of the people of the country. There is no denying of the fact that today the sun of truthfulness has pushed the darkness of the lies forever.

During her last and historic and heroic speech, Quaid-e-Jamooriat expressed her uncompromised stance about the democratic future of Pakistan where there was no room for the forces representing obscurantist mindset and having anti-people agenda. This was indeed a commitment with the restoration of true democracy in the country and thus creation of a social welfare state where the socio-economic rights of every citizen are provided and protected through the high values of democracy.

Being leader of the masses, Shaheed BB was most effective and forceful advocate of the democratic and human rights of all the citizens of Pakistan including vulnerable and marginalized segments of society. Her murderers in fact attempted to exterminate the hopes and aspirations of the people but they are bound to fail as Qauid-e-Jamhooriat has become a symbol of hope and resistance and thus an invigorating factor for them to pursue their dreams of getting rid poverty. 

Thanks God, today, by virtue of the visionary leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari, we are on the road to achieve a preposterous and stronger Pakistan as per the aspirations of Shaheed BB. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) can be termed as the practical manifestation of our great leader’s vision highlighted in slogan of “Roti, Kapra aor Makan - Elm, Roshni, Sab ko kaam”. We can rightly claim that BISP is playing a vital role in improving the socio-economic conditions of underprivileged segment of the country. The trust of the people and unprecedented service is a reality has received the acknowledgment and endorsement from entire word. It would be worth mentioning here on her You-e-Shahadat that the democracy in Pakistan today is truly a gift of Qauid-e-Jamooriat to us and it’s a success of the people who have secured democracy out of dictatorship through the vision of our great leader.

–The writer is Federal Minister and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme