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A woman stronger than any man

Benazir Bhutto had done what male leaders could not do; she convinced a dictator to have talks, made him take off his military uniform and resign as the army chief

Living in a conservative society, it is quite rare in female folk to find an individual to stand tall against rules and conventions of society, through which it blatantly defines the norms of social behaviour. It is almost impossible to find a messiah determined to change such a society. Regrettably, Pakistan has always been besieged by nasty autocrats, who suppressed the nation without abiding by any constitution or rule of law. It is even more pitiable that men who are considered stronger and for whom this society is being called male-dominated had failed to get this country out of the bog of dictatorship. During the dictatorial regimes, when women were subjugated, laws were written specifically to discriminate against them and were strictly enforced, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir emerged as the real leader and Daughter of the East, determined to get oppressed people out of the gray twilight that knew neither victory nor defeat; resolute to win glorious triumphs in her war for emancipation of poor people from the grip of dictatorship.

After the conspiracy and trial of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto was arrested repeatedly, tortured, was put to test and trial, and ultimately went into exile. Albeit she could choose a luxurious life, staying outside the country forever, but as Bhuttos were known for their sincerity to the people, therefore she did not leave the people in the lurch to face the brutality of a dictator. She did not give up, endured all hardships, paving the way for the rise of real democracy. When no man could dare to challenge the military coup, only Benazir did. She, proceeding despite a risk of possible dangers, ventured into the world of politics, struggling in a narrow-minded society against military and mullah alliances. Being gravely criticised by the politically motivated mullahs, who were against women’s progress and their fundamental rights, she never lost hope and became a symbol of respect of women all over the world, and turned into a unique leader, performing better than the male elements in society. She showed the way to women in Pakistan to stand up for their rights, of others, and stood fast against dictatorship and atrocities. All military regulations had failed to stop her — the prison cells, torture, guns, teargas, criticism, abuse — all had failed to shake her plans. Political forces may not have, but the masses had stood beside her, and with their immense support, she swept the general elections in 1988, succeeding in capturing power against the agents of the dictatorship.

History is a witness that one man’s rule had failed to consolidate itself due to the struggle that she conducted, and faced the most hated dictator in our history who had killed her father. Facing dictators and tyrannical establishments, she always stood victorious due to the existence of her stupendous strategies.

The dictator General Zia and the parties of the Pakistan National Alliance, calling themselves Islamic, all assembled against Benazir and the so-called democrats became protégés of the military regime. She fought all those dirty forces alone, which were not bothered about any rule of the game, and nakedly using all weapons to finish their political enemies. Undoubtedly, she beat them all.

Benazir Bhutto had done what male leaders could not do; she convinced a dictator to have talks, made him take off his military uniform and resign as the army chief. This historical achievement had become possible through her intellectual politics. However, not only the dictators, also the so-called democratic parties had put all efforts to humiliate her and despoil her favourable policies during her regimes. She, despite being a democratically elected prime minister, had to face the military establishment and the opposition, which was definitely devoid of principled politics, completely supported by the establishment. Rivals of the PPP, solely interested in personalised power, had always been adopting myopic policies to damage the country. Nevertheless, despite such mean acts of the establishment and political competitors, Benazir Bhutto became the most powerful voice of the people of Pakistan.

Despite the crackdowns on the democratic process, Benazir remained loyal to her cause. She was not among those so-called democratic leaders who seek apologies from dictators in order to save their own lives and families but do not dare to challenge coups. Even while remaining in exile, Ms Bhutto strove for a democratic Pakistan. Where were other political forces when she, despite being a woman, had fought alone against the brutal General Zia; stood alone against General Musharraf; raised voice and protested when the Chief Justice was deposed; dared to speak against terrorists who unleashed a spate of havoc in Pakistan? Where were the men, calling themselves the only flag-bearers of democracy, when the constitution was suspended and amended into virtual nonexistence, during the dictatorial regimes?

I stand in a daze; why are men considered stronger if they had not been to battles when that brave woman was fighting alone against everything? If today we are free to speak our minds then it is just because of Benazir Bhutto, who made the evolutionary transition of our society from a ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern’ one, and she was the only leader to inspire all to rise against oppression. I thank her for being our voice and making this society comfortable to exist in. She will always be missed. Rest in peace Bibi…

Daily Time