Pakistan Politics 
Benazir Bhutto, Iron Lady Of Pakistan & What Her Legacy Means

AHSAN MOBEEN/The Friday Times | 28/12/2023

Courtesy: The Friday Times

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“I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of this crisis,” said Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. These astute remarks from Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto's final address still echo clearly in my ears on this 27th December 2023, sixteen years after the attacks that claimed the life of a courageous, charismatic, and visionary leader who gave her life for the people of Pakistan.

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, also known as Daughter of the East, calms the ideologues of the Pakistan People's Party, but also plunges their hearts into despair when they recall the hardships endured by the Iron Lady of Pakistan. She was born into a family led by the flamboyant Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Shaheed, who was the most prominent democratic advocate of his day. Under Mr. Bhutto's guidance, BB was prepared to assiduously continue his legacy of bolstering democracy in Pakistan, where it was constantly in danger due to anti-democratic forces. But Bhutto's courageous daughter BB, who dared to overcome the obstacles set by the Zia dictatorship at the time, persisted in her father's admirable cause for the people of his motherland. Firm in her convictions during her exile, BB continued her work to such an extent that not even General Zia's ruthlessly authoritarian administration could stop her from garnering public support for her candidature.

Benazir Shaheed took leadership of her father's party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), following her father's execution in 1979. She and her mother, who was elected to the parliament in the 1980s as the leader of the Democratic Opposition, were subjected to repeated house arrests from 1979 until 1984. After living in exile from 1984 to 1986, she returned to Pakistan following the release of martial law, where she quickly rose to prominence in Zia's political opponents' ranks. At this time, BB was fervently following in her father's footsteps to gain a greater sense of respect for both herself and her deceased father. The masses greeted her upon her arrival in Pakistan with bouquets of flowers and loving chants honoring her late father, Aaj Bhi Bhutto Zinda Hai. This is arguably the most frequently chanted slogan among PPP supporters, or jiyalas, and it confirms that Mr. Bhutto's philosophy and affection for him will endure in the hearts and minds of these people as well as future generations.

Pakistan experienced a democratic transition from 1988 to 1990 when Benazir Bhutto bore the title of the first woman Prime Minister in the Muslim world. A visionary woman who was regarded by the public as a living legend overcame all obstacles because, like her late father, she never settled for less. The major setback to her first government came when President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved parliament on the pretext of unfounded accusations, at the urging of anti-Bhutto activists. Three years after her first government ended, Shaheed BB took the helm again. Since Mr. Farooq Laghari, the former president of Pakistan, was also a member of the PPP and had gained the respect of Shaheed BB, everything appeared to be going in the PPP's direction this time. In any case, this administration was unable to continue long enough to allow BB to provide the best possible service.

She continued her fight to make space for PPP, refusing to give up. She overcame the challenges with determination and arrived in her homeland, Pakistan in 2007. Historical flashbacks brought back memories for those living in the 1980s, when BB had returned to Pakistan following an exile. The political climate of the country had completely shifted, and the roars of Bhutto's courageous daughter could be heard in every corner of Pakistan. The country was rejoicing at her arrival, but things quickly started to turn around, and this time fate was not on her side. Following her public speech at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi, she accepted martyrdom in a powerful bomb explosion.

Pakistan is currently facing a historical crossroads. The political landscape of the nation is complex. Today her son is carrying her legacy, in the upcoming General Elections 2024, the flag bearer of her mother, Bilawal has resolved to infuse the spirit of democracy into a floundering Pakistan. Like her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto left a lasting impression on the people, and her name continues to play a crucial role in uniting the People’s Party with the general public.

In the land of Pakistan, a leader so bright,

Benazir Bhutto; beacon of light.

With courage and grace, she fought for her nation,

Her legacy inspires, a symbol of dedication.

Her voice echoed loud, for justice and rights,

A fearless warrior, in the darkest of nights.

Her life was cut short though her spirit is alive

A symbol of hope in hearts she thrive

In her sacrifice, we find strength and resolve,

To carry her mission, with passion and resolve.

Benazir Bhutto shaheed, forever in our hearts,

A true hero, whose memory never departs.

( This article was first published by The Friday Times, Pakistan). 

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