Resistance and reconciliation are two concepts, though rooted in history, still prevalent in present day politics. As a matter of fact, resistance is an act to defy the oppression in any form in a state or a society while reconciliation is a composite step to proceed further despite all types of ills in a society. History is prolific of examples relating to resistance of reconciliation. In ancient past, we find Socrates resisting traditional approach even at the cost of his life. He was offered to escape his fate but he preferred reconciliation to the prevalent law and let his life be taken. In recent past; Nelson Mandella was the man who was the paragon of resistance in his earlier part of life who opted for reconciliation in his later life just to fend off blood-spattered clash in his country. Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto terrestrial life (1953-2007) is a beautiful blend of resistance and reconciliation: resistance to gun holders while reconciliation with the aspirants of peace.

Her father taught her politics of resistance keeping in view the multicultural society of Pakistan. However, resistance was at the back of his mind while teaching politics of reconciliation to his gifted political heiress who had been the eye witness of the last era of Ayubian period where her father touched the summit of excellence when he resisted against the dictatorial regime. The later part of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto’s life is the shining example of political reconciliation and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was cheek by jowls to his learned father. His father was practically instructing her daughter how to strike reconciliation with the state institutions at home and how to reconcile with India in extraordinary times. Benazir Bhutto accompanied her father during Shimla Agreement, the best case reconciliation between the two countries.

Her resistance started with the arrest of her father, the one who founded the nuclear bomb, got 90000 prisoners of war released from India, hosted OIC summit at Lahore, got approved Constitution 1973 from National Assembly during his premiership and even sacrificed his life for the nation. At that time, her father Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto entrusted the leadership of this nation to Benazir Bhutto who fulfilled her responsibility even at the cost of her life. She was well aware about the designs of her enemies after Karsaz blast, but like a true leader she refused to back out the promise she made to her father for the safety and security of the nation. Like father like daughter.

After her father’s fateful shahadat, she started her resistance against three groups such as the then military junta, monopolists and capitalists. At the same time, she liked to tread on the path of reconciliation with political forces. She helped form and joined Movement for Restoration of Democracy(MRD) which had been a historically populist political alliance, formed to oppose and end the military government of President General Zia-ul-Haq. MRD included Abdul Wali Khan, Molana Mufti Mehmood and Nawab Nusrallah Khan who had been the political rivals of her father but Benazir Bhutto liked to join them in political struggle against the dictatorial regime of Zial ul Haq. This is the best example of reconciliation in the start of her political career. In 1988, her party formed government in center despite all type of leg-pulling and hypocrisy. After coming into power, the lady Prime Minister started resistance against the India’s illegitimate rule and state terrorism in Kashmir. After a long, long time, the Kashmir issue was highlighted and started pricking the world conscious once again. She also supported resistance against Israeli oppression and invited Palestinian leader Yasser Irfat in Pakistan. It was she who got international recognition to All Parties Hurriat Conference (APHC) which is an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organisations formed on March 9, 1993, as a united political front to raise the cause of Kashmiri freedom. She tried her level best to establish reconciliation with rivals in establishment too. For instance, she awarded Tamgha Jamhooriat to Gen. Aslam Beg who did not impose martial law after plane crash of dictator Zia ul Haq. Benazir Bhutto, forgetting the past, did not hesitate to have a handshake with the rivals for the cause of state, and, thus changed the direction of her resistance against the oppression on world’s stage. Within state, she offered resistance too but only at dialogue level.

At that time, Nawaz Sharif was the establishment’s blue eyed boy. She demonstrated her resistance against him but never closed the door of reconciliation. Her resistance was against his dictatorial attitude but doors for parliamentary discussion remained open. She also made a wonderful balance between resistance and reconciliation while dealing with MQM’s militant and political wings. The launched operation against the former while held talks with the later. In the same way, she started her resistance against General Musharraf when he took over. On the other hand, she supported dialogue with the world to avoid clash of civilizations. She opposed and condemned Taliban while trying to prevent the USA from embarking on war which was destructive for the region.

Later on, she opted for talks with General Musharraf- not to get benefits or premiership but for the removal of his uniform. By getting Musharraf to agree on removing the uniform, she really did a great job which all the religious and political leaders couldn’t make it happen despite their best efforts. For this purpose, she held a meeting with Musharraf and convinced him to do so. The propagandists try to give other meanings to reconciliation but the history itself has sorted out the truth from the falsehood. With NRO, Benazir paved the way for democracy in the country. The political rivals fail to understand this simple thing.

History has proved the efficacy of Benazir Bhutto’s policy as she opposed the Afghan war, efforts for access to warm waters and making this world as unipolar. She also opposed military intervention and ‘chamak’ in judiciary. Some judges gave verdicts against Benazir Bhutto on phone calls from power corridors. However, her opposition always remained limited to persons and never sputtered anger against the state institutions. It would not be wrong to say that her resistance and reconciliation was for state repeated state only.

Now the gun holders of all kinds are still united against Pakistan Peoples Party and its leadership since they are afraid of Benazir Bhutto’s legacy, her son, her husband, her ideas, her philosophy, her party and her party workers. We need to learn that pathway to progress will be clear if we are logical in deciding as to whom is to resist or reconcile with. Obviously, the state has to resist the gun holders while striking deal with the political forces. This is the only way to go ahead, for the state and the stakeholders.


The writer is a freelance columnist.