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Nation observes 15th death anniversary of its beloved leader

Dr. Abdul Razzak Shaikh

Today the nation is observing 15th death anniversary of former Prime Minister of Pakistan and the champion of democracy who was martyred on December 27, 2007 while she was addressing a huge public meeting at Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi.

Benazir Bhutto was the first female Prime Minister in a Muslim country, and at the age of 35, she was the youngest elected leader in the Islamic world.

Benazir-Bhutto_16f4251b4d9_original-ratioShaheed Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the great politician, founder of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)  and first elected premier of Pakistan – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was educated at Harvard University (B.A., 1973) and subsequently studied philosophy, Political Science, and economics at the University of Oxford (B.A., 1976) before completing a postgraduate degree in international law there (M.A., 1977).

Born on June 21, 1953, in Karachi, Benazir was the eldest child of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the United States and then studied at Oxford UK from 1973 to 1977.

Benazir-Bhutto_16f4246d4de_original-ratioHow much Benazir Bhutto was driven by a sense of destiny and how much was she the product of the peculiar circumstances of her life is a question for historians to answer. Benazir Bhutto first called the daughter of Pakistan, then the daughter of the East, and lately the daughter of destiny.

She took over as a chairperson of the PPP in 1982. Benazir Bhutto spent several years in exile in London. When she returned in 1986 during the regime of Dictator Zia ul Huq, hundreds of thousands people received her at Lahore. It was the real day for the life of PPP. Again she remained in exile and returned to Pakistan with plans to participate in the 2008 general election, but was killed during an attack at a PPP rally on 27th December 2007.

Benazir-Bhutto_16f42491cd1_original-ratioIn 1977, Benazir was placed under house arrest after the military coup led by General Zia ul-Haq, overthrew her father’s government. She inherited her father’s leadership of the PPP. On 4th April 1979, is the day remembered as ‘Shameful’ for the country, when the great leader of Muslim countries and Chairman of PPP was hanged in a fake case, and for which it is known as the ‘Judicial Murder’. This black day will never be forgotten in the history of Pakistan.

There were more family tragedies as her brother Shahnawaz Bhutto mysteriously died in France. Another brother, Murtaza Bhutto was assassinated in 1996 in police firing in Karachi.

Benazir-Bhutto_16f424a14b9_original-ratioBenazir Bhutto married Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, in Karachi on December 18, 1987.  Zia ul-Haq’s dictatorship ended when he was killed in a plane crash in 1988. Benazir Bhutto was elected the first-ever female prime minister of a Muslim nation on December 1, 1988, and dismissed in 1990. Her government was again dismissed in 1996.

Benazir again spent her life in exile in UK and UAE during the military regime another Dictator Pervaiz Musharraf.

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on October 17, 2007. In Karachi she was warmly welcomed by party workers and citizens but was hit by a suicide attack that killed about 170 people. She survived the bomb attack after ducking down in her armored vehicle.

Benazir Bhutto was killed when an assassin fired shots and then blew himself up at an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. The attack also killed 28 others and wounded at least another 100. The attacker struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Thousands of mourners paid last respects to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 28, 2007, as she was buried at her family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, Larkana province of Sindh.

President Pervez Musharraf announced three day mourning. Benazir Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, her three children, and her sister Sanam attended the burial. Benazir Bhutto was buried alongside her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

The shooting and bombing attack on the charismatic leader plunged Pakistan into turmoil. Furious supporters rampaged through several cities, torching cars, trains, and stores. Pakistan’s election commission postponed general elections (scheduled for January 2, 2008) till February 18.

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had revealed that it had irrefutable evidence that al-Qaeda was behind Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. The government had recorded an intelligence report in which al Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act however Mehsud had denied involvement.

Benazir-Bhutto_16f42422723_original-ratioBenazir Bhutto was a Brave daughter of a brave father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Benazir became Prime Minister twice but she was always distrusted by the power planners, which used corruption allegations to remove her from power.

Her Career has been celebrated as a triumph for women in the Muslim world and for the global fight against extremism. Her efforts and struggle to champion democracy remain a lasting legacy that is deeply respected among her rivals.

We will never forget her sacrifice for the cause of democracy. Though she is no longer with us, her vision will be alive for the PPP and for the poor people of Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto’s autobiography, Daughter of the East, was published in 1988 (also published as Daughter of Destiny, 1989); she also wrote Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, which was published posthumously in 2008.


Dr Abdul Razak Shaikh - Sindh CourierDr. Abdul Razzak Shaikh, who retired from Sindh Health Department, is the President, Peoples Doctors Forum Sindh. He is a freelance writer.




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