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Benazir Bhutto: A charismatic leader – by Hamza Ameer

Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the first women leader of a Muslim nation in modern history, a woman who represented a family filled with brilliance and a nation leading ability, a family that reached out to the needs of the people as the (late) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the father of Benazir Bhutto was the pioneer of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) with the slogan of “Food, Clothing and Housing”. December 27 marks 3rd death anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on December 27 2007, in a terrorist attack when she was leaving Liaqaut Bagh, Rawalpindi, where she had addressed a PPP rally, two weeks before the scheduled general election of 2008. She was buried alongside her father in her native town Ghari Khuda Baksh in Sindh province. Millions of her family’s devotees gather in her native town carrying themselves in different caravans and trains from every part of the country to pay tribute to the unflinching leader of Pakistan at her grave.

Benazir Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state and had the honor of being twice Prime Minister of the country (1988-1990 & 1993-1996).  Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, ruled the country from 1971 until 1977. She was born in Karachi

on June 21, 1953. She attended the Lady Jennings Nursery School and Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi. After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the United States. From 1969 to 1973, she attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. Benazir Bhutto studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, during which time she completed additional courses in International Law and Diplomacy. After LMH she attended St Catherine’s College, Oxford and was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. These are the times that Benazir Bhutto declared to be the happiest years of her life as these were the times that formed the very basis of her belief in democracy. On June 2006, she received an Honorary LL.D degree from the University of Toronto. After LMH she attended St Catherine’s College, Oxford and Later she returned to Pakistan where her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had been elected prime minister.

Days after her arrival, the military seized power and her father was imprisoned. In 1979, he was hanged by the military government of General Zia-Ul-Haq. Benazir Bhutto herself was also arrested many times over the following years, and was detained for three years before being permitted to leave the country in 1984. She settled in London, but along with her two brothers, continued struggle against the military rule. Later that year, when her brother died in 1985, she returned to Pakistan in April 1986 for his burial. She was arrested for participating in an anti-government rally.

Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister for the first time in 1988 at the age of 35, but was removed from office 20 months later by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 she was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 by President Farooq Leghari. She went into exile in Dubai in 1998. Asif Ali Zardari was released from prison in 2004 and rejoined his family in London. On October 18, 2007, in the face of death threats from radical Islamists, and the hostility of the government, Benazir Bhutto returned to her native country.

She was greeted by enthusiastic crowds. However, within hours of her arrival, her

motorcade was attacked by a suicide bomber in Karachi. She survived the assassination attempt, but over 100 party workers and citizens died in the attack.

Benazir Bhutto carried a charismatic personality and having the required education needed to understand and lead the country, she carried forward the policies of her father. Benazir Bhutto is still remembered in the minds and hearts of the people of Pakistan as one of the most appropriate and revolutionary leaders of all time.

Courtesy: Asia Despatch

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Ali Arqam

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