Fifteen years later, the wound caused by Benazir Bhutto’s murder has not yet fully healed. Her passing left a void in Pakistani politics that has been challenging to fill. Every year, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s death is mourned on December 27 by millions of her supporters, coworkers, party members, and friends who cherish her in their hearts. In Pakistani politics, her martyrdom has left a leadership void that has persisted for fifteen years. Despite this, she continues to be the country’s most influential, motivating, and captivating leader.
Historians will need to determine how much of Benazir’s motivation came from a sense of destiny and how much came from the unusual circumstances surrounding her life. But if there is one lesson to be learnt from the tale of her life, it is that she was able to hold onto her destiny despite being initially propelled into it by the not-so-mundane realities of her life. Bhutto gave an unambiguous indication of how the idea of being larger than life continued evolving for her by referring to herself as the “daughter of Pakistan,” then the “daughter of the East,” and most recently the “daughter of destiny.” “Our destiny does not lie in our stars. It lies within us. Our destiny beckons us. Let us have the strength to grasp it.” She firmly believed in love, dedication, and affection and disapproved of any forms of hatred and antagonism. “We need to leave the river of hatred and climb upon the bank of confidence to grasp that our hatred just produces hatred,” she said in clear words. Unfortunately, she became a victim to hatred herself and gave her life to further the causes of peace and love.
Is it not regrettable that even the wearing of a white dupatta by her during her lifetime was interpreted by Pakistanis as a sign of “revenge?” Although, BB believed that democracy was the best revenge, and never sought vengeance. She gracefully accepted the judicial murder of her father and the murder of her two brothers, and was willing to make amends with her worst enemies. She was never given the chance to rule, sometimes as a consequence of rigged elections, sometimes by no confidence votes, and sometimes by the toppling of her government on spurious corruption charges. Ultimately, she never lost hope and advocated for a strong federation – that is what made her successful.
BB Shaheed is revered in Pakistani politics, a leader who was decades ahead of her time and a representation of a liberal and progressive Pakistan. She served as a link between the genuine Islamic ethos and the West. Benazir Bhutto fiercely battled against military dictators and was a real fighter. Her unmatched sacrifices for democracy continue to inspire millions of her supporters to never give up and to never compromise on their values. She had the will and the courage to challenge the conventional beliefs of the Pakistani elite, particularly when it came to matters affecting the average person. She was unafraid to speak her mind without worrying about the consequences, and her love for the underprivileged masses was amply evident through their sentiments; she was their glimmer of hope for a more prosperous and inclusive Pakistan. The only intellectual opposition to the rising wave of bigotry and obscurantism was provided by Bhutto and her party.
The groundwork was laid once more for the “Queen of the people’s hearts” to reclaim her exalted position. People from all over Pakistan travelled to Karachi to welcome her on October 18, 2007, a testament to her strength, bravery and readiness to confront threats against her and her nation head on. Tireless lobbying in Western capitals during her protracted years in exile had finally given her the opportunity to return. According to some estimations, the audience that assembled in Lahore a little more than two decades ago was smaller than the one that was present that day, but the terrorist struck before she could inspire her party to prepare for another electoral victory.
She visited the hospitals the very next morning without protection, after escaping the October 18 attempt on her life which murdered 178 party workers who were valiantly guarding her truck, and then went to Lyari to express her condolences to people who lost loved ones. She was struck by the families’ feelings of love and affection for her. Her determination to defend Pakistan from the forces of extremism and militancy grew after witnessing all of this. Millions of her supporters respected her for her commitment to Pakistan’s underprivileged citizens, her integrity, and her abiding love for the nation. Her leadership was distinguished by her ability to identify with the underprivileged and oppressed masses of this nation. Since she believed that young people were Pakistan’s future, her plan to support them in the party was an innovative one. At Liaquat Bagh, where she gave her final speech on December 27, she said, “I put my life in peril and came here because I felt our country is in danger. Concern is widespread. We shall rescue the nation from its predicament.”
I’m not sure if the truth about her murder will ever surface, but history will never be kind to anyone who tries to cover it up. They must also remember that there is a God above us all. Although she was killed, her followers will continue her legacy with tenacity and perseverance to keep her cause alive.
Today, Pakistan is at a historical fork in the road. The country is in a complicated political situation. Like all crossroads that this nation has come across, the choices that are made today will have an indelible impact on Pakistan’s future. Economic stability is a significant concern for Pakistan, in addition to corruption, terrorism, and tensions along its borders. The loss of a national leader like Benazir Bhutto, who could have guided the country out of its crises in such a tumultuous political environment when it was on the point of make-or-break, is felt keenly. She served as a testament to Pakistan’s resilience – its near unbelievable ability to continue to exist as a viable democratic nation and a respectable member of the international community. She served as a symbol of unity for all of Pakistan’s provinces.
Bibi, your dedication to helping the country’s needy, your integrity, and your abiding love for Pakistan are the reason that millions of your followers will never forget you. Live long Bhutto-ism, long live Pakistan. O daughter of the Indus, rest in peace forever. They took you away from us in such a cruel way.
She was the river, the land, the sea
She lives today in you and me
She was the fragrant soil of Sindh
She was Lal Qalandar come to life
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!