On December 27, I was in Barcelona, Spain on Christmas holidays. It was a very sunny and pleasant evening when my colleague received a SMS, informing that Benazir Bhutto is no longer in this world. I felt a sudden shock but then I thought this may be a joke or misinformation. But suddenly I remembered my last night dream in which I was shouting the slogan of “Gea Bhutto” in front of Bhutto’s ideological enemies and getting a warm response from them. The next morning, front pages of every newspaper were full of pictures and reports about this tragic event. I witnessed that the local people are very much shocked and angry over this event. I was trying to hide my Pakistani identity from the people around in fear that people may question, why you people assassinated the hopes of not only Pakistan but also of the entire civilised world. Of all the ironies in Benazir Bhutto’s turbulent and controversial political life, the reactions and grievances of people despite of their political and ideological affiliations was the realisation of my last night dream.
After witnessing such a worldwide tribute and protests I am with no option but to pay tribute to the leader who has provided inspiration and courage to me and thousands of youth to loud their voices against the oppressors in society. This tribute is not only a political tribute but an emotional tribute to the women of courage, conviction and wisdom.
Ms. Bhutto has been accused of incompetence and corruption in the past, nevertheless, she was never convicted nor any evidence has ever been brought against her. Benazir had incredible personal courage and she sacrificed her life for her country. She could have stayed in London and Dubai in a life of comfort and safety. December 27 was a dismal day and a mournful date, on which the extremist and the enemies of Pakistan and Islam shown its blackest face to the civilised world. To some, she was a lifelong role model. Others call Pakistan’s former prime minister and the first female prime minister of any Muslim nation, a source of inspiration to women everywhere. Many people acknowledges, “we never were a political supporter of Benazir Bhutto but now after her death we feel that her loss is a loss for the federation of Pakistan, the death of democracy, the death of hope for a liberal and secular Pakistan, the death of the hopes of minorities, not just her political supporters.” She was the kind of woman who had a commanding presence. All those qualities befitting a leader, really: visionary, striking, intelligent, articulate, powerful and, also, charming.
Women from all over the world saw hope in his personality and courage. They looked in their eyes and saw stereotypes of their homelands wiped away. She was like iconic shields worn into daily battles. Of all the ironies in Benazir Bhutto’s turbulent and controversial political life, she was listed as the second most powerful women in the world after Hillary Clinton.
The respect and love of the people of Northern Areas for Bhuttos are as old as the history of Pakistan Peoples Party. After the liberation of the region, it was the government of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who brought far-reaching reforms for the region. It includes the abolition of the black law FCR from the region, abolition of the oppressed Hunza and Nagar chiefdoms, abolition of agriculture tax and the office of the Political Agent. He declared the region as a division and named it as NAs of Pakistan with creation of five districts (Gilgit, Skardu, Diamer, Ghanche and Ghizer). He extended local bodies act to the Northern Areas and increased funds three folds. He was the pioneer of Pak-China friendship and construction of KKH. It was a bad luck for the people of Northern Areas that Bhutto Shaheed was hanged. The recent administrative package announced for Northern Areas by President Musharaf was also said to be a move prompted by the return of Benazir Bhutto from exile. Quoting sources, the Dawn Newspaper said the step ‘has been taken in the light of a surge in political activity in these areas after the return of Bhutto. Her Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has a vast following in these areas and a large number of workers had travelled to Karachi to welcome her’. After her return to Pakistan Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for many time thanked the people of Northern Areas for their love and promised to streamline the region on national level after coming on power. But unfortunately the hopes of the people of Northern Areas were again assassinated with Benazir Bhutto.
Last Night People here in Germany celebrated New Year with traditional joy. Firecrackers exploded all around the sky. This gave me the feeling of the bloods of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and others spreading as red colour in the sky.
The life of Benazir Bhutto is now an inspiration to us all. In the long run courage always defeats hatred. No assassin can ever take that away. As Benazir said ‘’ Democracy is the best revenge”. We hope the new leadership of PPP will continue the mission of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto towards an enlightened, pluralistic and educated Pakistan.
(The writer is working with a local NGO. He is currently pursuing a one year training on “Planning & Management for sustainable regional development in Mountains”, in Germany. He has MSC (hons)/M.Phil in Rural Developmetn from Agricultural University Peshawar.)