Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

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Benazir Bhutto — an icon of struggle for the people

By Farzana Raja
The News - December 27, 2010


 

Indeed, it was the most tragic and dreadful evening in the history of Pakistan. Three years ago, it was a horrible evening of December 27 when few cowards, who were afraid of the democratic struggle of Benazir Bhutto and her resolve to serve the people of Pakistan, brutally assassinated her at Liaquatbagh soon after her historic speech to a massive public rally.

Benazir was assassinated because she was a forceful advocate of the democratic and human rights of the poor. Her assassins actually wanted to murder the hopes and aspirations of the downtrodden of getting rid of the clutches of vicious circle of poverty and undemocratic oppressive regimes. Hence, the murder of Benazir was indeed a conspiracy to keep the people deprived of their fundamental rights and dreams of a better future.

As a true depiction of the brilliance of a fearless and brave leader, despite earlier attempts on her life, Benazir kept striding on the courageous path of democracy. She was indeed a portrayal of countless virtues. She possessed a kind heart and had a dynamic, sympathetic and affectionate personality. Her heart was full of sympathy for the poor and under-privileged people of the country. It was an expression of the people’s love for her that the entire country was engulfed in a deep sense of grief on her assassination; every eye in Pakistan was full of tears and every heart was bleeding with deep sorrow.

While on the most dreadful journey of my life, heading towards Naudero from Rawalpindi with BB’s coffin, I was overwhelmed with deep sorrow and agony and every single moment spent with my great leader was flashing back from the cavalcade of my most cherished memories. All those long years of democratic struggle under her direct guidance were running before my eyes like a motion picture in fast-forward mode. It was only a few months back when I was lucky to be with BB celebrating her 53rd birthday in Dubai, never realising that this would be her last birthday celebration with us. Back on the plane, I was recalling the marathon struggle for revival of genuine democracy in the country and all the golden moments I had spent with her over the years. I was honoured to be with her in all the rallies held in various parts of Punjab as pre-election campaign after her return from exile.

Benazir inspired many women like me; she always wanted women to move ahead in every field of national endeavour, make their mark and serve the nation. Due to her leadership, more women got appointed at higher levels of the PPP and consequently the party has played a historical role in empowering women. She always advised us to concentrate on the issues affecting women, minorities and the weaker sections of society.

First-ever comprehensive social protection initiative of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is nothing but a tribute to the vision of Benazir. We are all aware of the fact that in 2008, both exogenous as well as indigenous factors affected Pakistan’s economy severely. International financial, fuel, and food crisis along with the ongoing ‘war on terror’ adversely affected the already unstable socio-economic structure of Pakistan. These factors triggered the apprehensions that the already impoverished would not be able to sustain this economic shock and will plunge deeper into the abyss of poverty and hunger.

To confront these challenge, and inspired by the vision of Benazir, the present government launched the BISP. According to the aspirations of BB to serve the downtrodden segments of society, the BISP has introduced various initiatives like monthly cash grants, long-term interest free financial assistance and offering vocational and technical training opportunities to the under-privileged sections of society. These initiatives are highly significant to break the myth that people belonging to these helpless strata are not capable enough to initiate and run their business or to acquire the skills to change their fate.

BB always emphasised on the importance of transparency and objectivity. Resultantly, the BISP is the first ever such initiative in the social sector of the country that has gained support and trust of various prestigious international organisations as transparency and impartiality have been the hallmark of this programme. To improve the procedure further and establish utmost transparency, the BISP has recently started a countrywide door-to-door poverty survey aiming to enrol maximum number of deserving families without any consideration of political affiliations, geographical location, or religious orientation.

The present democratic government would keep fulfilling its commitments made in the party’s manifesto and Benazir’s contribution to uplift the lives of masses of the country would continue with the passage of time. As we are marking Benazir’s 3th death anniversary, it’s time to reiterate our resolve to follow her vision, which would surely be instrumental in putting the country on the path of progress and prosperity.

The writer is the chairwoman of the Benazir Income Support Programme.

 

 

 

 

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