This piece is a tribute to Benazir Bhutto on her birthday and like all in Pakistan who either loved her or hated to love her will think of her or not depends on how one thinks. She is no more and the world goes on down the path it is on, where it has survived with many considered indispensable gone.

It is maybe the irony of reality and nature that we carry on after our grief and sorrow of losing someone near and dear. But as I sit in my jail cell in Central Prison Karachi as a victim of power drunkenness and persecution for coming in the way of our current political leader’s designs of keeping us in the dark for their personal petty interests. My situation is gravest to my family and I but when I think of Benazir Bhutto my problems feel so little and pale. She meant so much to us and I truly adored her when she was alive and more now.

Her leaving us in the way she did shook us at the time and today, after so many years, as I sit down and make a silent prayer for her, celebrate her being and birthday. I am shaken as I eat the sweets, which I should not be eating being a borderline diabetic, as I try to pen down all that she means to me and all of Pakistanis. It is a real pity and quite sad that we, in Pakistan, have become so cynical, sarcastic and skeptical that we do not respect or celebrate our greats.

This piece is an attempt to share my very personal thoughts on what Benazir Bhutto means to me and why she is the most unique amongst our leaders and the world over. We all know who she was and that she became the first elected Muslim woman Prime Minister in the world. She did many things for us and as said earlier, we all loved her or hated to love her, she gave us hope and strength, just as her great father did too, but she did what no leader ever did. She came back to Pakistan, even though she was very threatened. The question is that she everything, a good life, great kids, wealth, recognition, stature, safety of London and yet she came back. She was attacked and miraculously survived where hundreds of lives were cut short and maimed. She did not get scared and went deeper into the country. She was asked not address the public gathering, but she did and her words and euphoria captured on tape says it all in her last address to her ardent followers. She literally was glowing at the showering of love of the people present in Liaqat Bagh. They cheered her and could not get enough of the queen of their hearts and minds.

They surrounded her and chanted slogans of “Zinda Hai Bhutto, Zinda Hai” and being the daughter of the one and only Z. A Bhutto, she responded to their chants and in great public pressure, just for them to have a moment more, she rose from her armored vehicle by getting the roof latch opened and emerged to respond to the massive out pouring of love and affection. She waved and was so much at home with her followers and passionate supporters. The footage of her wave and gratitude is forever etched in our memories. She came out, just when she had finished her rally and impassioned speech, the speech where she looked straight into the eyes of our enemies and said ‘we do not fear you and believe in destiny’. Her words, the way they were said, need to be played over and over again to showcase what a fearless leader she was and how crystal clear her thoughts were. She said it all and the crowd got charged and no one that was present in Liaqat Bagh that day will ever forget her appearance, her glow and the overwhelming joy of getting the response she truly expected.

It was against her security detail protocol that she felt she could not leave the venue without thanking her supporters and so she came out of the roof and waved at her followers. She did not care about what and who awaited her as she only felt the love of her people and took the risk to return the love she got. Amongst chants those who were present for another purpose did what mercenaries do and attacked from far, near and literally everywhere and all we saw was her going down in her bulletproof vehicle, which sped away as all hell broke loose. It was hours later when news broke out that she was no more amongst us.

To date there have been so many questions; why did she come out of the jeep as she had already delivered her impassioned speech and it was a great rally, no one would have objected or minded her having left the venue just as all leaders do after their thing. It was not the case for the one and only Benazir Bhutto, she had to respond by gracing her supporters one last glance of her presence and letting them know that she too loved them as much as they loved her. It was this gesture of maternal like love that caused us all Pakistanis to become a rudderless ship, for the queen of our hearts on whose scarf were pinned our hopes and aspirations. She was sent to her eternal abode from within the crown who loved her mostly, but included those who hated her so much that they sent mercenaries tasked to change the course of our history and so to of the world. No one, no one leader comes to mind who sacrificed his or her life for the sake of love, for it was nothing but the love of her people, just as a mother does her children. But then again, if you know of any leader in the history of the world who lost his or her life for the sake of love of his or her people, please do.

As at the outset I have stated we Pakistanis either love her or hated to love her may sound like an exaggeration but it has taken me many years to gather the fact and that too in a place where she was too once incarcerated. What a leader, she certainly was in a hurry and said much, which now on reflection depicts that she maybe did know the limits of her time and so said much, which no one said in Pakistan. Is it not surprising that only her amongst our leaders talked of a new social contract? Maybe most political leaders do not even understand what a social contract is, for all they know is contracts that enrich them and make them Richie rich.

Benazir Bhutto did not need riches; she was born rich but dressed simply and gracefully held our culture and traditions. She has left us; it seems frozen in that moment where she responded to the mass out pouring of love and affection for her and now must be watching in utter bewilderment of no one trying to pick up the torch and show us the way out of this loveless state. All eyes are now at her children to stand tall and make Pakistan realize its true potential as she followed her great father, who is the founder of the real Pakistan state coming into being on 16 December 1971.

Categories:   Women Empowerment