Obituary

Begum Nusrat Bhutto – Iron Lady of Pakistan

Remembering Begum Bhutto on her death anniversary

She passed away on October 23, 2011 at the age of 82 years. Nation will never forget her sacrifice for the Cause of Democracy.

DR ABDUL RAZAK SHAIKH

Begum Nusrat Bhutto was an iron lady who stood against undemocratic forces in Pakistan. She faced tyrannical rule of the dictator Gen. Zia with utmost bravado. Despite house arrests, physical and emotional attacks on her by the military regime, she persisted in her struggle to raise the flag of democracy in the country. Her courage was a source of inspiration for the PPP workers. She led her people by example and gave them a clear message that there would be no compromise on the struggle for democracy even if it meant writing history with their blood. And history remembers the darkness of dictatorship, brightened for democracy with the blood of a mother and a leader when she was assaulted by the state forces. Her resolve was so strong that it travelled from one generation to another. Her children continued her struggle against dictatorship and today her grandchild Bilawal Bhutto is a champion of democracy.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto was born on 23rd March 1929, former first lady of Pakistan, widow of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who was also a former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Begum nusrat-bhutto-with-late-prime-minister-zulfikar-ali-bhutto-1584887930-6035Nusrat Ispahani was an Iranian from Kurdistan Province, Iran and daughter of a wealthy Iranian businessman who settled in Karachi in British India before its partition. Nusrat met Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Karachi where they got married. That was to be Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s 2nd marriage. As first lady from 1973-1977, Nusrat Bhutto functioned as a political hostess and accompanied her husband on a number of overseas visits. In 1979, after the trial and execution of her husband, she and her daughters were imprisoned and put under house arrest by the Zia regime. However, due to health concerns she was later permitted to leave the country for London, where she was later joined by her daughters Benazir and Sanam. She became leader of the People’s Party during her London exile and although she was chairperson of the party for life, her daughter Benazir Bhutto later replaced her.

After returning to Pakistan in the late 1980s, she served several terms as Member of the National Assembly from the family constituency of Larkana in Sindh. Also, during the administrations of her daughter, she became a cabinet minister.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto proudly stated about Benazir Bhutto that she is an intelligent, courageous, and politically enlightened girl who will play an important role in taking PPP to new heights of success. “Bhutto Shaheed had especially given political training to his daughter. When Bhutto Shaheed was in jail, he was allowed one hour to meet with visitors. He used to give political lectures during this hour. This teaching during the last days of Bhutto Shaheed proved to be of immense importance for our daughter. Benazir has passed every test and will offer effective leadership to the party.”

Begum Bhutto-1Begum Nusrat Bhutto was awarded the highest civilian award for democratic struggle against dictatorship. Begum Sahiba enjoyed tremendous respect not only among party workers but also in national political circles. She was kind hearted and loved workers of PPP.

Benazir Bhutto proved a true successor to her father Quaid-E-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as predicted by Begum Sahiba. She led the party to victory against all odds. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto became a leader of international stature.

Begum Nusurat Bhutto outlived three of her children Murtaza, Benazir and Shahnawaz Bhutto. Of the immediate family, only Sanam Bhutto, daughter of Nusrat and Z. A. Bhutto remains. She suffered from the combined effects of a stroke and Alzheimer disease. She passed away on October 23, 2011. Begum Nusrat Bhutto was 82 years old at the time of her death. Nation will never forget her sacrifice for the Cause of Democracy. We salute her in history.

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