On 27th of December 2007, Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister, and the chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party ended her long and thorny political carrier with a bang. Her untimely death was a big blow not only to the bereaved family but to the fragile political culture of a country which has a short democratic history punctuated frequently with military dictatorships. Quickly flipping through the history of the first Muslim female political legendary warrior one discovers tragedy performed at each and every page of her history book but like a typical Greek hero she stared death in the face and never bowed down.
Pinky (her nick) was born in 1953, (the same year Stalin, Russian dictator died) in the landed and politically charged Bhutto family, a family known for tradition of dying for democracy. Her life changed as the fate of the country changed. A pathetic study indeed! Tests, turmoils and tribulations waited for both Pinky and Pakistan. Both were nurtured and nourished mostly on the tunes of despotism, mismanagement and mass ignorance.
A convent qualified girl later on quenched her thirst of knowledge at Karachi Grammar School, Harvard and Oxford Universities obtaining her degrees in Arts, Philosophy, International law,Comparative Study of Governments, Politics, Diplomacy and Economics. During her stay in the West she observed the working of democratic socities and the urge to strengthen the roots of democracy in Pakistan got hold of her and the life she led after completing her education speaks a lot : how she suffered and sacrificed the last drop of her blood to nourish the roots of democracy and freedom of speech.
Right from her teenage she started accompanying her father, attending historic events and acquiring the acumen required of a mature politican and diplomat. She was with Prime Minister Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto when Simla agreement was signed between Pakistan and India after the war of 1971. During the government of her father she mostly spent her time in the west participating in debating societies, attending seminars and learning the pros and cons of life. Quite a sociable lady fond of increasing the circle of her friends, Pinky at last came back to Pakistan to face the most troublesome phase of her life which later on stamped the seal of love for democracy and freedom in her heart.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the first elected prime minister of Pakistan was executed by the Martial law regime on 4th April, 1979 and Benazir Bhutto was imprisoned along with her mother by the forces of dictatorship. However, in 1984, she was allowed to move to the United Kingdom where she remained as an exiled leader.
In 1986, she came back to Pakistan and was warmly welcomed by the people who were tired of Zia regime. In the elections of 1988 she succeeded in forming a coalition government and became the first woman prime minister of a Muslim state. She got married to Asif Ali Zardari on 18th December ,1987. During her short tenure she tried to reform and modernize the society but the retrogressive forces dismissed her government on the charges of corruption. In the next elections, she could not form government and played her role as the leader of the opposition. But again in 1993 her party won elections and Benazir was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time. She promised to repeal the controversial Hudood and zina ordinances during her election campaign but failed in introducing modernism in Pakistani society. Her government was again dismissed by the President Farooq Leghari and she went to U. A. E. in exile where she looked after her children Asifa, Bakhtawar and Bilawal. During her stay abroad, she delivered lectures and wrote articles in the national and international press.
On 18th October, 2007, after eight years long period of exile she at last had a political dialogue with President Pervaiz Mushraf and came back to Pakistan. She was warmly received by the people at Karachi air-port but her rally was attacked by the suicide bomber creating havoc and chaos. She fortunately survived the attack but on 17th of December the leader was mercilessly killed at Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi. She had already been informed by the local and international agencies that there was a threat to her life but Pinky was a romantic to the core. She had a romance with death. Life for her was an existential question of the being. “To be or not to be that is the question…”She had no choice regarding her birth but she exercised her choice of death and died the death of a hero and joined the line of immortals who are always alive in the hearts of the people for whom they sacrificed their lives.
(Published in the Aspirant, a life style fashion magazine)