Who knew that 21st June, 1953 would bless the nation with a baby who would later became a model of courage for Pakistani women? The woman of courage is the story of a woman who became prime minister of Pakistan twice. It was hard to digest for a male-dominated society to tolerate a woman governing over them as prime minister but their dominance never downed her courage and she governed twice as an elected Prime Minister. Martyrdom of her father, regime of Zia, fatwas of Mullahs, killing of her innocent brothers, years in detainment and years of exile; could not create barriers in her way. Yes, I am talking about the courageous example we all know; Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
She attended Lady Jennings Nursery School and Convent Jesus and Marry (CJM) in Karachi. After doing her O Levels at the age of 15 and A levels from Karachi Grammar School (KGS), she went to Radcliffe College-Harvard University in 1969 and completed her Bachelors of Honors in comparative government. According to her, those 4 years at Radcliffe College were the happiest years of her life and these years built her basis of belief in democracy. She further said that as a student at Radcliffe, she also learnt the first hand powerlessness of the Third World countries in the face of the self-interest as Superpowers (Daughter of the East Pg; 48). After Radcliffe College, she attended Oxford University and studied International Law, economics, politics and philosophy from 1973-1977. In 1976, she got elected as President of Oxford Union Society (A debating Society) becoming the first Asian woman to become the President of Oxford Union. Furthermore, in 1989, she received Honorary LLD (Doctorate of Law) degree from Harvard University during her visit to United States of America as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
After completing her education from Oxford University, she decided to come back home with the intentions to join politics in Pakistan and make the roots of democracy stronger but a shocking storm was waiting for her in her motherland. In the same year, her father Z.A Bhutto got arrested and she along with her mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto was imprisoned. She spent 6 years of her life in home detention and in prison; she was imprisoned in Sukkur, Larkana & Karachi Jails. Recalling her days in Sukkur Jail she wrote in her autobiography “Daughter of the East” that, “The summer heat turned my cell into an oven. My skin split and peeled, coming off my hands in sheets. Boils erupted on my face. My hair, which had always been thick, began to come out by the handful. Insects crept into the cell like invading armies. Grasshoppers, mosquitoes, stinging flies, bees and bugs came up through the cracks in the floor and through the open bars from the courtyard. Big black ants, cockroaches, seething clumps of little red ants and spiders, I tried pulling the sheet over my head at night to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got too hot to breathe’. After Sukkur Jail imprisonment, she was hospitalized for months and then kept in home detention first in Larkana and then in Karachi.
In 1984, she, along with her mother was allowed to travel abroad for medical reasons. After going through a surgery, she started her political activities in Britain. In 1985, she received another bad news regarding her youngest brother Shahnawaz Bhutto’s Murder in France. Upon her return to Pakistan in 1986 after the span of exile, she was greeted by such large crowd at Lahore that it took her march almost 10 hours to travel the 8 miles from the airport to a rally site. In 1988, she was elected as the eleventh Prime Minister of Pakistan and first ever woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country. In 1993, she became Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time and this time again she couldn’t complete her tenure of 5 years. After that she went on self-exile but then decided to return back to the homeland; Pakistan despite the life threats. She was asked not to come back but she replied , “I have to keep my Promises; Promises which I made with the general public of Pakistan”. On 18th October, 2007 she returned to Pakistan; this time again she was greeted by a large crowd at Karachi but the coward people could not digest her fame and respect in the eyes of a common man. On her route to rally site, 2 explosions took place killing 140 people and injuring almost 500 people; BB was escorted unharmed from the scene but she felt pain of the people who were killed and injured deeply and hence she visited their families afterwards. The black day of the history was not so far and on 27th of December, 2007, BB was assassinated in Rawalpindi, the city where her father Z.A Bhutto was also assassinated in 1979.
BB’s martyrdom was not only a loss for her political party & family but it was a loss for the entire nation, for the whole world. No matter what her critics say but the world had witnessed her bravery. Despite losing her father and brothers, she stood like a mountain in front of storms and tolerated the pain with a smile on her face. Whatsoever has been done after her martyrdom, from the changing of names of the roads, hospitals, airports and a city (Benazirabad) to initiating poverty reduction programs (B.I.S.P); nothing can substitute her memories. She is alive in the hearts of the common people, if only we could feel it. From small children to the aged, all miss her; all eyes are wet, all mourn her martyrdom (Visit Gharhi Khuda Bux to witness it personally).
Although, she is not among us today but her life is a great example for all of us. The lady is a role model of patriotism, tolerance, sacrifice, hard work and enthusiasm. A few weeks before the elections which got her elected as the first woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country, a Muslim Scholar Muhammad Amin Minhas quoted Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) saying ,“A nation will never prosper, if it elects to be governed by a woman”. After sometime Amin Minhas reconsidered it and said, “Allah has given us this woman as our leader, and Benazir has acknowledged that this new power she possesses is, indeed, Allah’s gift”. She indeed was Allah’s gift for our nation. The poet must have written following lines for Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto;
“Dhoondo Gey Agar Mulkon Mulkon
Milnay Kay Nahi Naayaab Hain Hum”.