A leg­end of the East

The Pak Banker - - Editorial - Syed Yusuf Raza Gi­lani

De­cem­ber 27 is a day of im­mense grief and na­tional tragedy when Pak­istan in par­tic­u­lar and the world in gen­eral lost a leader of high stature in the per­son of Mo­htrama Be­nazir Bhutto. It also con­veys the mes­sage in no un­cer­tain terms that Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto con­tin­ues to be the sym­bol of fed­er­a­tion of Pak­istan even in her mar­tyr­dom as she was in her life.

Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto's life is a clas­sic study of courage, com­mit­ment to­wards peo­ple's wel­fare, and steel-like de­ter­mi­na­tion to ac­com­plish the goals she set be­fore her­self. She took over the man­tle of lead­er­ship of Pak­istan Peo­ple's Party from her il­lus­tri­ous fa­ther Sha­heed Zulifqar Ali Bhutto in the most try­ing cir­cum­stances. She then car­ried for­ward the mis­sion of her fa­ther and braved the op­pres­sion of the dic­ta­to­rial regime for eleven years with ut­most courage. She con­tin­ued to in­spire mil­lions of masses and kept their hopes alive dur­ing the pro­tracted pe­riod of dic­ta­tor­ship. It is the sole hon­our of Pak­istan Peo­ple's Party that it has its roots in ev­ery sec­tion of so­ci­ety, be it work­ers, labour­ers, peas­ants, stu­dents, lawyers, teach­ers, in­tel­lec­tu­als and women etc. Sha­heed BB led a re­lent­less strug­gle for the em­pow­er­ment of these sec­tions of so­ci­ety, which forms the man­i­festo of the Party.

The his­tory of the Third World fails to of­fer any other ex­am­ple whereby a leader rose to such a promi­nence and carved a role due to qual­i­ties of the head and heart. Due to her po­lit­i­cal wis­dom and lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto made her mark in the world pol­i­tics. She was an em­bod­i­ment of courage and en­durance who did not al­low her per­sonal tragedies to stand in the way of her larger com­mit­ment to­wards her peo­ple.

I deem it per­ti­nent to re­fer to quotes of Sha­heed Mo­htrama Be­nazir Bhutto. In her ad­dress to a sem­i­nar on the legacy of Z.A. Bhutto in April 1989, she said: "Courage and grace in the face of ad­ver­sity are the hall­marks of a great leader." In her speech at the Pesh­war Uni­ver­sity in 1995, she said: "The char­ac­ter of men and women is shaped by their own abil­ity to over­come ad­ver­sity and not to be bent in a face of storm."

She proved through per­sonal ex­am­ple that she was a leader who prac­ticed what she preached. There is no ad­ver­sity, big or small that Mo­htrama Be­nazir Bhutto did not face start­ing from mar­tyr­dom of her fa­ther, her broth­ers, threats to her life and then, to the rigours of ex­ile and im­pris­on­ment. Af­ter ev­ery tragedy, she bounced back with re­newed com­mit­ment, more vigour and de­ter­mi­na­tion to serve her peo­ple. I re­call that Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto used to say: "Turn your per­sonal pain into your strength. You can con­quer world with this strength."

There is a very se­lect and rare breed of peo­ple who be­come im­mor­tal af­ter their deaths. No doubt Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto be­longs to this cat­e­gory.

She is a heart­throb of mil­lions of peo­ple and con­tin­ues to rule their hearts and minds even in her mar­tyr­dom. Her en­tire life is a role model not only for the peo­ple of Pak­istan but also of the world. She was an in­car­na­tion of stead­fast­ness, per­se­ver­ance and de­ter­mi­na­tion. Her name would be chron­i­cled in golden words in the an­nals of his­tory. She writes in her book, "Daugh­ter of the East", "I did not se­lect this life for my­self. Rather this life has se­lected me for it­self."

His­tory would re­mem­ber Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto for three things: firstly, the un­wa­ver­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to reach out to her peo­ple; se­condly, the courage to take on huge and seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able chal­lenges and thirdly, the abil­ity to for­give even her en­e­mies.

She may not be phys­i­cally with us to­day but her ideals and vi­sion con­tinue to en­lighten our path. The prin­ci­ples and val­ues she fought and died for re­main as rel­e­vant to­day as they were in the past. Those val­ues form the main­stream nar­ra­tive in our fight against mul­ti­ple chal­lenges that we face to­day. Sha­heed BB rep­re­sented an idea of hu­man lib­er­a­tion, em­pow­er­ment of com­mon man and a wel­fare state. Dur­ing her speech on the oc­ca­sion of open­ing cer­e­mony of new Supreme Court Build­ing in May 1995, she said: "in­di­vid­u­als can be killed but not ideas. Ideas live in the hearts and minds of men and women." Though there are many facets of her il­lus­tri­ous life, how­ever, I would con­fine my­self to only a few due to time con­straint. The first and fore­most is her dec­la­ra­tion of Ji­had against mil­i­tancy, ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism.

She clearly warned us of this pen­e­trat­ing men­ace in our midst way back in 1994 in her key­note speech to the Sev­enth OIC Sum­mit held in Casablanca. She said: "Ex­trem­ism to­day is a chal­lenge. A chal­lenge we must col­lec­tively seek to un­der­stand and over­come, be­fore it over­comes and con­sumes us and leaves de­struc­tion in its wake."

She knew the dangers posed to her own life due to her stance against ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism but the well-be­ing and fu­ture of this nation was dearer to her heart and she was ready to pay any price to safe­guard Pak­istan. The per­pe­tra­tors of doom and gloom may have mar­tyred an in­di­vid­ual but they have not si­lenced the idea she cham­pi­oned and stood for. The his­toric emer­gence of na­tional con­sen­sus against ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism among dif­fer­ent streaks of na­tional opin­ion owes it­self to the sac­ri­fice of Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto. She led the fight against the forces of dark­ness from the front and awak­ened the nation to the re­al­ity of these lethal per­ils. Thus by choos­ing mar­tyr­dom at the hands of ter­ror­ists, she has safe­guarded the fu­ture of this coun­try.

Our great coun­try has suf­fered due to pol­i­tics of vendetta and re­venge. As a re­sult of lack of con­sen­sus among dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties on the min­i­mum rules of the game, there has been pe­ri­odic derail­ment of democ­racy and ush­er­ing in eras of the dic­ta­to­rial rules with its at­ten­dant prob­lems. Her sign­ing of his­toric Char­ter of Democ­racy along with the PML-N Chief Mian Muham­mad Nawaz Sharif rep­re­sented a sin­cere ef­fort at chang­ing the po­lit­i­cal cul­ture of the coun­try. She knew that if the nation's well be­ing was to be en­sured, it was pos­si­ble through con­tin­u­a­tion of the demo­cratic or­der.

In a speech she de­liv­ered at the Port Qasim, Karachi, in Au­gust 1989, Sha­heed BB said: "The pol­i­tics of vi­o­lence is the dire en­emy of the hopes, the dreams and the am­bi­tions of our peo­ple." Thus she founded the tra­di­tion of pol­i­tics of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and har­mony.

She be­lieved that com­mon man's well-be­ing lay in the con­tin­u­a­tion of democ­racy and the es­tab­lish­ment of good gov­er­nance. She said in a speech at the then Na­tional De­fence Col­lege: "The ba­sic el­e­ments which de­fine my vi­sion of Pak­istan are: a mod­ern, en­light­ened, so­cial democ­racy based on fed­er­al­ism and par­lia­men­tary form of govern­ment."

Guided by the vi­sion of Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto, the present demo­cratic govern­ment has un­der­taken crit­i­cal re­forms in dif­fer­ent walks of our na­tional life. In a short span of two and half years, we have trav­eled a dis­tance of miles. The fo­cus of re­forms in­tro­duced by my govern­ment re­mains on re­ori­ent­ing the di­rec­tion of state pol­icy in favour of the com­mon man-the man in the street who is the real stake­holder. Our his­toric suc­cesses such as Aagz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochis­tan Ini­tia­tive, the adop­tion of 7th NFC Award, the pas­sage of the 18th Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment, Gil­git-Baltistan Self-Gov­er­nance & Em­pow­er­ment Act, Be­nazir In­come Sup­port Pro­gramme, dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives for em­pow­er­ment of women, and suc­cess­ful fight against ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism to name only a few, are ded­i­cated to the me­mory and vi­sion of our mar­tyred leader Sha­heed Be­nazir Bhutto. In our strug­gle to ac­com­plish these Her­culean tasks, my coali­tion govern­ment and I my­self have been guided by the pol­i­tics of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and har­mony orig­i­nally es­poused by our Sha­heed Leader.

His­tory is be­ing made in this coun­try un­der the coali­tion govern­ment as we have suc­cess­fully taken on struc­tural is­sues of gov­er­nance and re­forms, which re­mained un­re­solved in the past. It is merely the be­gin­ning of a jour­ney. It is the first step which is dif­fi­cult to take and thank­fully we are well past the take-off stage. It is not yet time to rest on our lau­rels. We can not af­ford to be com­pla­cent, for we have the debt of huge tasks con­ferred on us by our Sha­heed lead­ers. It is our na­tional duty to strengthen the fed­er­a­tion of Pak­istan.

Let us join one an­other in the spirit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, har­mony and friend­ship to rid the coun­try of the grave chal­lenges. As we march on, there may be more stren­u­ous chal­lenges ahead but our re­solve to take on them must be greater than be­fore. I would like to con­clude with Sha­heed BB's Dream of Pak­istan wherein she said: "I dream of a Pak­istan where we can com­mit our so­cial re­sources to the devel­op­ment of hu­man life and not to its de­struc­tion."

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