Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

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Benazir lived and died for Pakistan
By Bashir Riaz - December 27, 2010

“Pakistan is our home — we shall live and die on our land,” said Benazir Bhutto Shaheed in a crowded press conference at London’s Heathrow Airport on January 13, 1984. She had reached there after a long imprisonment in Pakistan for the operation of her ears.

Benazir’s historic words continue to echo in Pakistan even today. Her prophetic statement proved right on the fateful day of December 27, 2007 when she was brutally murdered at Liaquat Bagh. Today is her third anniversary and her assassins are yet to be brought to justice.

She had told journalist Amir Mir in Lahore on November 13, 2007 that if she were to die he could name Pervez Musharraf as her killer. She had identified her murderer. Her last words need to be respected and their sanctity should not be violated.

Such are the ways of providence that Musharraf is already running around for his life. But he needs to be brought before the law so that the suspicions that lurk in the minds of her countless admirers and devotees could be cleared.

Benazir agreed to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for such high values and to put an end to Musharraf’s rule. In her two meetings with Musharraf, her position was clear. She wanted to return to Pakistan so that she could protect the legacy of her great father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and continue his mission. She never asked that the concocted cases against her be abolished. In fact, she demanded that the bar on becoming a prime minister for third time be lifted. Musharraf had confessed that this condition was not acceptable to his allies and considered the removal of cases against her as a better bargain. One should not forget that the NRO cost her life. We lost the only world celebrity we had and yet some people have the audacity to raise the bogey of the NRO.

It was on a 2006 autumn morning when Begum Abida had joined the PPP in London. Rehman Malik and Rukhsana Bangash drove BB from the airport to my place as she was concerned about my health. BB wanted me to release the news that she would be a candidate for premiership herself. And in case this was not possible, somebody from the family would be a candidate. This was a time when newspapers were throwing names of various alternate PM candidates from the PPP. BB’s clarification put an end to such rumours.

BB wrote the will about the PPP herself. She wrote it on October 16, two days before her arrival in Pakistan. She had given the interim responsibility of running the party in her absence to her husband Asif Zardari. She had also written in the will that the party’s executive committee could later elect its own leader after internal consultation. Accordingly, the party CEC ratified the selection of Asif Zardari as the co-chairman in its first meeting. Her son Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari was nominated as the chairman. It is appropriate to say that the decisions have been taken in keeping with her wishes.

I can disclose that BB nominated her husband Asif Zardari because she thought that he could keep the party together. She feared that a person other than a family member, if given the charge of the PPP, might destroy the party by hijacking it. President Asif Zardari had endured long spells in jail with great courage. He did not compromise in the worse of times. This was another consideration, which convinced BB to nominate him as his successor.

Zardari is being targeted by the forces which are known to be ‘anti-Bhutto’. They are doing that because he not only represents the Bhutto family but also leads the PPP. This is precisely the reason that those forces are after him.

The Pakistan People’s Party is the real heir to the BB legacy. She gave the best years of her life protecting her father’s legacy. She confronted the worse at the hands of Ziaul Haq. She kept the party and its mission alive with great steadfastness. The fact remains that the PPP is the largest party of the country, which has roots in all provinces.

But BB is alive in the heart and mind of the people in the shape of her party. PPP workers are her biggest legacy, who represent the federation of Pakistan. She gave her life for the preservation of democracy and human rights in this country. And the people of this country acknowledge her great sacrifice. This is perhaps the biggest credit that we give her in return.

“We shall live and die in Pakistan,” BB Shaheed’s declaration on January 13, 1984 was proved right on December 27, 2007. This made her alive eternally.

Bashir Riaz was a close confidante of Benazir Bhutto and a veteran PPP elder.





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