Benazir Bhutto Shaheed — happy birthday!
By Riaz Ali Toori
BENAZIR Bhutto Shaheed would be remembered eternally in the history for her heroism, struggle for the restoration of democracy and her sacrifices for Pakistan and its people.
In the past, we find a very few women with such bravado and nerve that not only faced all troubles staunchly but also led different missions successfully. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is not only a role model for the women of Pakistan, she is also the pride of the Islamic world.
It was the happiest and joyous day for the Bhuttos when on June 21, 1953, a baby girl opened her eyes in the lap of Begum Nusrat Bhutto. The baby girl was named “Benazir” which means “unique”, “exceptional” and “unmatched”.
No one knew that she was fated to lead the poor, oppressed and downtrodden Pakistani people in millions on the path of democracy, progress and peace. No one knew that she would appear on the political horizon of the country and the Islamic world as Benazir – a matchless, exceptional and a unique person.
A dictator’s long tyrannical rule had turned Pakistan into a breeding ground of terrorism and extremism. Neither in mosques, markets and educational institutions nor inside homes was anyone safe. Daily suicide bombings were killing men, women and innocent children. Schools, colleges, universities, public places and mosques were under attack – killing and terrorising the public.
Pakistan’s Tribal Areas and the Swat Valley – once earthly paradises, were being turned into a hotbed of terrorism. Life of the common man was in immense trouble and everyone was passing through a situation of great anguish and fear. Pakistan was rapidly turning into the Stone Age with worst examples of human rights violations, poverty and unemployment.
In such a heart-wrenching situation, for a leader like Benazir Bhutto, who had always fought for the well-being of her people, it was difficult to stay further away from her nation and her beloved country. Thus, she decided to return home to bring her country toward peace and progress.
Many advised her against returning to Pakistan because of the threats to her life, but she favoured death among her people rather to bargain and reside silently abroad.
She had known all the dangers to her life. She had in her memory the pains that dictator Ziaul Haq had inflicted on herself and her mother when the first democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had been put behind bars after a military coup. She remembered her days and nights in Sukkur and Karachi jails in the hot summer days and cold winters. She also remembered her father’s hanging to death, sanctioned by the country’s apex court.
Benazir Bhutto Shaheed no doubt had been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, had lived a highly contented luxurious life being daughter of a prime minister. But she also spent a good time of her life in bearing difficulties. She didn’t consider anything; pushed behind all fears and rushed to her country only to bring it peace and restore democracy and the constitution her father gave to Pakistan.
We find in history only a few such fearless, courageous and relentless ones who experienced all kinds of sufferings – from the confines of prison to the martyrdom of her father and two brothers – and yet gave preference to difficulties. Many men, unable to face the dictators, either became turncoats or fled the country. But alone, Benazir, as a young 25-year-old, fought ruthless Ziaul Haq and, after him, dictator Musharraf.
Her life is a gloomy chapter in the political history of Pakistan, bearing the martyrdom of father, ZA Bhutto Shaheed, younger brothers, Shahnawaz Bhutto and Mir Murtaza Bhutto, but still she remained plucky and determined towards Bhutto’s great mission.
She didn’t let go of the mission of ZA Bhutto, who had planted the seeds of democracy in Pakistan and had given this nation a constitution that is still the centre of unity among all provinces and equally valuable to all political parties.
On October 18, 2007, as she landed in the land of pure, her eyes were shedding tears of love for Pakistan. She kissed the soil of Pakistan and was dressed in the national flag colours to show how much she loved this country and its people. She was surrounded by a crowd of workers of the Pakistan People’s Party. She was excited, light-hearted, optimistic and in high spirits. Before her eyes was the mission of making Pakistan a better place for its citizens, free from extremism and terrorism. But she didn’t reach her residence peacefully, as two blasts hit her welcoming rally and 275 party workers were killed, with over 600 seriously injured.
This tear-jerking misfortune didn’t fracture the supreme morale of the bravest female leader, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. After the tragic incident of Karsaz, she didn’t give the killers any impression of fear. She continued her struggle and started visiting different provinces, cities and villages of Pakistan to tell the terrorists that she was not afraid of death.
Benazir Bhutto fought bravely against all those forces that wanted to see Pakistan as a state where pseudo-religious champions could impose their irrational ideas on the public.
She was a great messenger of the women’s rights and for the rights of minorities. She promised to promote human rights and fundamental freedom. For her unyielding great efforts to promote human rights and peace, the United Nations in 2008 conferred on her an award in the field of human rights.
The highly prestigious UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights, awarded every five years, was presented at a UN General Assembly ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
On becoming the first elected head of a state in the Islamic history, she said, “As the first woman ever elected to head an Islamic nation, I feel a special responsibility regarding issues that relate to women.”
Benazir Bhutto’s life teaches us the lesson of persistence, valour and courage. Her services for the well-being of Pakistan and its people will be cherished forever. Happy Birthday Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.