Benazir Bhutto in memoriam

ByNabeel Zafar

Works in the private sector


January 2, 2023

Benazir Bhutto In Memoriam Of Pakistan

Nabeel Zafar reminisce about a legendary career

It has been 15 years that Benazir Bhutto in memoriam left for her heavenly abode. Benazir Bhutto, affectionately called by the people of Pakistan as Bibi, and revered as Shaheed Rani in Sindh after her untimely death was made of a very sturdy mettle and simply possessed indomitable spirit. In her rather short but highly eventful life she created an aura that still remains second to none. Her daring nature made her to rise to the highest political office in the land where just a few years earlier a law was passed to reduce the status of a woman’s testimony in courts of law to half that of men. She was dauntless a figure in every respect and in the process became an icon for the people committed to freedom of human spirit who take pride in emulating her. Through her stoic struggle against the forces of obscurantism she became a source of inspiration for millions of others all around the globe who still revere her contribution to the noblest cause.

Benazir was a very comely woman with extra-fine complexion who was known not to be very conscious of her attractive personality and ignored the subtleties of female existence coming to fore as a forceful personality exuding tremendous confidence in her personal conduct and public persona. She was taller than average height and her personal demeanor was very pleasant and she was a quick laugh. Her wit was legendary heavily laden with an intellectual brilliance that distinguished her from her contemporary practitioners of the art of politics. She stood head and shoulders above all in her penchant to call a spade a spade and never hesitated to speak her mind on any issue she dealt with. While fluent in English she had developed a rather lilting command of Urdu and a smattering of Sindhi that she sometime used when addressing her rural audiences. Her physical energy was proverbial that oozed out in her public commitments and in her untiring efforts to remain in touch with her countrywide following.

Her father was intent in grooming her into a formidable personality that she ultimately did adequately aided by her Oxford and Harvard studies where she excelled in debating and was rated a prominent student. Her father also aroused her interest in politics and she fast imbibed the intricacies of political workmanship in a socio-political milieu prevalent in Pakistan. Her father provided her with a solid grounding in foreign affairs by letting her work in precincts of Pakistani foreign office where she gained experience as a middle-range executive that would stand her in good stead. She became part of the crucial Simla talks held in 1972 when due to her father’s skills Pakistan succeeded in extricating itself favourably from a tricky after –effects of its dismemberment and war with its powerful neighbour. In Simla she rubbed shoulders with the extraordinary female success story in India’s Indira Gandhi and was known to have admired the guts and tenacity of Pakistan’s adversary.

The decisive and life-changing event in the life of Bibi came when her father met the completely unexpected tragic fate that though shattered her but instilled in her an unusually grave ambition to further the cause espoused by her father. She entered the tough world of Pakistani politics with an unapologetic attitude towards being a woman though the Pakistani matrix suffered from hyper-masculinity. She picked up from where her father left and her success brought her two stints in office as Prime Minister (1988-90 and 1993-96) though both her tenures were cut short. Most of her time in power was spent battling for survival against the machinations of those opposed to her who were constantly trying to bring down her governments. Throughout her life she faced constant character assassination, perpetual resistance from the obscurantist elements and by the arbitrary forces who never accepted civilian rule particularly a woman being the head of it.

Despite all hurdles she faced she still managed to leave behind a legacy of commitment to democracy, economic empowerment of the downtrodden and social equality that was what she implicitly believed in. She was committed to education and founded SZABIST on her personal property that has now grown into one of the largest academic institutions. Her natural instincts for the welfare of the downtrodden resulted in Benazir Income Support Programme though it was not directly established by her but is the outcome of her ideas about the matter. Benazir Bhutto is a legend of Pakistan that has become a beacon of light for generations of Pakistanis for all times to come. TW

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