Monday, Mar 27, 2017

Daughter of soil: Benazir will remain alive in hearts of Pakistan

Malik Zeeshan Shabbir

Benazir Bhutto, the first ever woman prime minister of a Muslim country, will always be remembered for her leadership and valour. She was not only a politician but a stateswoman who fought her way through against the dictatorship to lead her party and became the elected prime minister twice Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, at Karachi's Pinto Hospital, Pakistan. She was the eldest child of former Premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and and Begum Nusrat Bhutto. She had three younger siblings Murtaza, Shahnawaz and Sanam. Benazir went to school in Karachi through high school. 

Benazir Bhutto went to the United States when she was sixteen and attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she earned a degree in government. At this time she experienced quite a different culture from her Pakistani home. While she was at Cambridge, her father became prime minister of Pakistan. Between 1973 and 1977 Bhutto attended Oxford University in Oxford, England. In December 1976 she was elected president of Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head that famous debating society.

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Four years into Benazir's studies in England, the Pakistani military overthrew her father's government in a coup. The coup leader, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, imposed martial law on Pakistan and had Zulfikar Ali Bhutto arrested on trumped-up conspiracy charges. Benazir returned home, where she and her brother Murtaza worked for 18 months to rally public opinion in support of their jailed father. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, meanwhile, convicted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced him to death by hanging.

Due to their activism on behalf of their father, Benazir and Murtaza were placed under house arrest off and on. As Zulfikar's designated execution date of April 4, 1979 drew closer, Benazir, her mother, and her younger siblings were all arrested and imprisoned in a police camp. Benazir Bhutto and her mother went to London in January of 1984 to begin their self-imposed medical exile. As soon as Benazir's ear problem was remedied, she began to publicly advocate against the Zia regime. Tragedy touched the family once more on July 18, 1985. After a family picnic, Benazir's youngest brother, the 27-year-old Shah Nawaz Bhutto, died of poisoning in his home in France. His family believed that his Afghan princess wife, Rehana, had murdered Shah Nawaz at the behest of the Zia regime; although French police held her in custody for some time, no charges were ever brought against her. Despite her grief, Benazir Bhutto continued her political involvement. She became the leader in exile of her father's Pakistan People's Party.

Between the assassinations of her close relatives and Benazir's own frantically busy political schedule, she had no time for dating or meeting men. In fact, by the time she entered her 30s, Benazir Bhutto had begun to assume that she would never marry; politics would be her life's work and only love. However, her family had other ideas. An auntie advocated for a fellow Sindhi and scion of a landed family, a young man named Asif Ali Zardari. Benazir refused to even meet him at first, but after a concerted effort by her family and his, the marriage was arranged. The marriage was a happy one, and the couple had three children - a son, Bilawal (born 1988), and two daughters, Bakhtawar (born 1990) and Aseefa (born 1993). They had hoped for a larger family, but Asif Zardari was imprisoned for seven years, so they were unable to have more children.

Benazir Bhutto became the first female prime minister of Pakistan in 1988. In 1993, Bhutto was elected for a second term after the 1993 parliamentary elections. On June 2006, she received an Honorary LL.D degree from the University of Toronto. Benazir Bhutto was moved to Dubai with her children, after her defeat in the general election of 1997. After almost 9 Years in 2007 she returned to Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf was present during this time. 

Benazir Bhutto was the two time Prime Minister of Pakistan the Chairperson of the PPP and the first lady Prime Minister of the Muslim world. She was an intelligent woman, wise and experienced politician and the most prominent political figure of the world.
The attack targeting Pakistan's most Prominent opposition leader dealt a new shock to a world already troubled by political terrorism and clouded the process of the general election and country's political failure. Benazir Bhutto stood for parliamentary elections in February of 1997, but was defeated. Meanwhile, her husband had been arrested trying to get to Dubai, and went on trial for corruption. While in prison, Zardari won a parliamentary seat. In April of 1999, both Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari were convicted of corruption, and were fined $8.6 million US each. They were both sentenced to five years in prison.

However, Bhutto was already in Dubai, which refused to extradite her back to Pakistan, so only Zardari served his sentence. In 2004, after his release, he joined his wife in exile in Dubai. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, as a gun and bomb suicide attack immediately after she had addressed an election rally of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) at Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh Park. It was the same place where Pakistan's first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on October 16, 1951, just after four years of independence. Benazir's Assassination is a mystery that whether it was a suicide attack or a target killing and that is yet to decide. The matter is under investigation. The government of Pakistan has deputed Scotland Yard team to investigate the matter.

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