The legacy of the great Benazir Bhutto

The legacy of the great Benazir Bhutto

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2020 marks 13 years since Benazir Bhutto (BB) died in an untimely and unnatural manner. She was an epitome of courage, foresight, and charisma-- an enduring icon who could unite all of Pakistan despite its different ethnic and socioeconomic makeup. 

Historically, it is extremely rare that one finds individuals who spend their whole lives fighting for the betterment of their homelands and then die for the sake of their country as well. Bhutto was one of the rare ones. 

Even after all this time, she remains a global icon for women empowerment. Her legacy is one of foresight and grace. 

Starting her political career at a young age, BB took the reins of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after the politically motivated execution of her father and former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. She then went on to become the first woman, and youngest, Prime Minister of a Muslim country. She continues to remain the first and only female Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two non-consecutive terms in 1988-1990 and 1993-1996 respectively. She truly broke the glass ceiling for women everywhere.

BB’s efforts to socioeconomically uplift the lives of ordinary people will always be remembered in golden words, as she truly wanted to establish a just and egalitarian society. 

The welfare of women and children remained a priority agenda in both of her terms. In addition, valuable contributions were made by her government in the domain of strengthening the defence of the country, including the introduction of missile technology, the expansion of Port Qasim at Karachi, establishment of a nuclear power plant under a bilateral agreement with China, among many others. 

BB’s stature was international, and for decades she served as the face of Pakistan, especially in the West. The world acknowledged her vision, her efforts for promoting democracy, and recognized her contributions to the cause of Pakistan and its people, making Bhutto the recipient of the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Award in 2008 - a doubly special year as it was also the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even her death could not diminish her life accomplishments, and even posthumously, tributes and homages are paid to her to date, by global leaders and international institutions. 

Bilawal’s decision to invite leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in Larkana for his mother’s death anniversary this year will prove to be a game changer for all democratic forces in the country. It goes on to prove that even in her death, BB continues to be a unifying factor for all democratic voices in Pakistan.  

Sehar Kamran

Today, her legacy is being carried forward by her able children. Each of them are marking their own path as they move ahead in the political sphere while carrying their mother’s ideals and vision forward. 

One must commend PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s conduct as a national leader especially in recent years. He was the first political leader who took a stance against the current government. PPP’s recent election campaign in Gilgit-Baltistan under Chairman Bilawal’s leadership was a breath of fresh air. His clear stances on issues concerning the common people, and his stand for democracy and rule of law has been appreciated by all neutral forces. He continues his role in opposition, as a responsible national leader in both his speech and action.

Bilawal’s decision to invite leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in Larkana for his mother’s death anniversary this year will prove to be a game changer for all democratic forces in the country. It goes on to prove that even in her death, BB continues to be a unifying factor for all democratic voices in Pakistan.  

Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, BB’s eldest daughter and the first child ever born to a sitting Prime Minister, is carrying forward the legacy of her great mother by making her mark in the field of education and other welfare work as a philanthropist. 

Similarly, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari’s entrance into the political landscape at a time when her country needs her, is reminiscent of her late mother both in image and actions.

It is reassuring that these dynamic, enterprising, and diligent young leaders have taken on their mother’s unfinished tasks and will hopefully continue down the path envisioned and forged by her. As Chairman Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa represent the continuity of BB’s legacy – and the continuity of the journey by the nation that began with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

*Sehar Kamran is the President of the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), she is a prominent politician, acadmeician and practitioner in the areas of regional, international defense and strategic studies. Twitter @SeharKamran

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