Benazir: A ferocious fighter
4th anniversary of Benazir Bhutto has passed, leaving behind the trail of poignancy and anguish in the hearts of her family and friends, workers and democracy loving people. She sacrificed her life for the cause of democracy which to her was the only system that can rid the country from the yoke of dictatorship and its concomitant ills. The saddest thing is that 4 years have passed yet her killers are at large.
Benazir Bhutto succeeded twice as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996. Thus, she was the first women prime minster in the whole of the Muslim world. On both occasions, she was removed from premiership on the alleged charges of corruption, bad governance and misuse of power and following bad economic policies which generated more poverty, inflation and unemployment. These charges never proved in any court of law.
No wonder she was a ferocious fighter and committed leader to the cause of democracy. Before her departure for Pakistan, I still remember her words vividly, which she spoke at Dubai Airport on October 18, 2007. She said, “though death is staring into my eyes, yet I would go back to my country in order to liberate people, liberate country from the shackles of dictatorship and shackles of extremism and terrorism”. She said that in her last speech at Liaqat Bagh “I put my life in danger and came here because I feel that my country is in danger”. This shows her leadership mettle as leader is the one who is never sacred of trials and tribulation in the journey of democratic struggle.
She was fearless leader despite the fact that she had suffered personal grief with the death of her father, brothers and thousands of workers who challenged the brutal rule of Gen. Zia. Lived five years of solitary life in jail, she knew that there’s no physical come back for speaking truth despite all such personal trials and tribulations. With every passing day, her faith in democracy neither wavered, nor her desire to see democracy return to the country and flourish.
If we take a closer look on the role she played for nation and its people, you will find so many feathers of success to her cap. She gave missile technology, agosta submarine to our navy, she established women bank, women police stations, and women affairs ministry was founded during her first stint in 1988. All these steps suggested that she was committed to the goal of women empowerment in every walk of life. She always encouraged women to participate in politics. She appointed women judges and thousand of lady health visitors to reduce infant mortality. She also spearheaded the moment to make Pakistan polio-free.
Her services for the country were not only confined to the welfare of women, but also her numouros steps on socio-economic front. During her regime, Qasim Port and Steel Mill were expanded; she launched the Keti Bunder and Thar Coal projects, with a view to overcome energy crisis in the country and thereby generates thousands of jobs. She gave jobs to jobless, took steps to improve the system of education and provide health care to people at their doorsteps. In order to eliminate poverty of rural masses, she provied lands to landless haris so that could they improve their lot and live descent and honorable life.
Benazir in her book “Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West” spelt out her vision and new political philosophy which was based political, economic and social democracy, underpinned by good democratic, accountable and judicious governance system. In her book, she criticized west for derailing democracy in the Muslim world and supporting dictatorships which finally paved the way for extremism and talibanisation in the country. In order to rid the country of dictatorship and extremism, she had to negotiate with Musharraf and singed agreement in the form of NRO, for which BB was criticized by her opponents though many analysts believe that had BB not singed NRO with Musharraf, democracy would not have returned to the country.
BB believed in the politics of reconciliation as she learnt over the years that confrontation amongst political forces had derailed the democratic process. It was in this context, she singed CoD in 2006 with PML N in order to strengthen democracy and rule of law.
I believe that, the legacy of PPP can never be shaken as it is the party which has emerged after so many sacrifices, based on basic fundamentals of human needs and their belief of strengthening and empowering the individuals, institutions, and democratic forces is stronger. Nevertheless, it’s the high time that the present government rectifies their flaws, and addresses the needs of drowntrodden as per BB’s dream and philosophy.
Today BB is no more with us, her death wasn’t the only loss of Pakistan, but the loss of hope, determination, and courage that had exists within us, within you, and within me. That is what we lost on 27th Dec, 2007. There are so many conspiracies with regard to her assassination, some says it was Al-Qaida, some say establishment, maybe agencies, or maybe the current government? Whatever the truth is no one knows, but what we should really need to know here is that, BB laid her life for true democracy. Irrespective whether you like it or not her last wave from her car was out of love for her countryman who were languishing under the darkness of dictatorship.
Though she is not with us but she has left with us her rich potical and an intellectual capital in the shape of her ideas, her philosophy of democratic, developmental and secular Pakistan where everyone, without discrimination on the basis of cast, color and religion, can live free life. As she rightly said in her book that, “one can kill the person but not an idea”. So, let us pledge to work for the preservation and promotion of her democratic ideals in order to turn Pakistan in tolerant and vibrant society. Let’s continue her dream. Let democracy do not die with her death in Pakistan.
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