Champion of democracy

Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti

Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (Pakistan People’s Party) from the early 1980s until her whole life. Bhutto was born in Karachi to a politically important, aristocratic family; her father, the Pakistan People’s Party’s founder and leader Zulfikar, was elected Prime Minister on a socialist platform in 1973.
Bhutto studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union. She returned to Pakistan, where her father was ousted in a 1977 military coup and executed. Bhutto and her mother Nusrat took control of the Pakistan People’s Party and led the country’s Movement for the restoration of democracy; Bhutto was repeatedly imprisoned by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military government and then exiled to Britain in 1984. She returned in 1986 and transformed the Pakistan People’s Party’s platform from a socialist to a liberal one, before leading it to victory in the 1988 election.
As Prime Minister, her attempts at reform were stifled by conservative and Islamist forces, including President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the powerful military. Her administration was accused of corruption and nepotism, and dismissed by Khan in 1990. Intelligence services rigged the 1990 election to ensure a victory for the conservative Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), after which Bhutto served as the Leader of the Opposition. After the IJI government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also dismissed on corruption charges, Bhutto led the Pakistan Peoples Party to victory in the 1993 elections. Her second term oversaw economic privatization and attempts to advance women’s rights.
Her platform emphasized civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence. After a political rally in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated; Although she was a brave hearted women and always love to be with her followers to make them better nation but deep conspiracy came into a horrible reality when she died in an invisible attack and that day not only Pakistan but the world had lost costly leader of south Asia specially of Pakistan whom is still needy for a great leader to lead Pakistani nation accordingly. Although the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban and rogue elements of the intelligence services were widely suspected. For this accident who could fully depress the radiant future of Pakistan.
Bhutto was a controversial figure. She was often criticized as being politically inexperienced and corrupt, and faced much opposition from Pakistan’s Islamist lobby for her secularist and modernizing agenda. She nevertheless remained domestically popular and also attracted support from Western nations, for whom she was a champion of democracy and women’s rights. Several universities and public buildings in Pakistan bear Benazir’s name, while her career influenced a number of activists including Malala Yousafzai.
Bhutto created the largest cabinet in Pakistan’s history, although her administration consisted of figures with little political experience. Following her election, there remained significant mistrust between Bhutto and the right-wing military administration; many senior military gores viewed her, like her father, as a threat to their dominant role in Pakistan’s political arena. The opposition was substantial and contributed to Bhutto’s inability to pass any major legislation during her first term in office. She was nevertheless able to ensure the release of a number of political prisoners detained under the Zia government, as well as lifting the country’s bans on trade unions and student associations, and removing many of the constraints imposed on non-governmental organizations.
She also introduced measures to lift the media censorship introduced by previous military administrations. But President Khan delayed signing the documents and thus the Trust would only be broken up during her second premiership. Bhutto succeeded in getting Khan’s approval to change two of the country’s four provincial governors. She appointed General Tikka Khan, one of the few senior military officers who were loyal to her, as the Governor of Punjab. She also sought to replace the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, but President Khan refused to permit this. Bhutto disliked Khan’s hostile attitude toward her, but he had the backing of the military.
In the presidential election, Bhutto initially proposed Malik Qasim, who had been involved in the MRD, as the Pakistan People’s Party’s nominee, but the military refused to accept this. Bhutto relented and agreed that Khan could be nominated as the Pakistan People’s Party’s presidential candidate. Bhutto also wanted to replace Mahbub-ul-Haq as finance minister, but again the military opposed her. Compromising, she accepted al Haq’s continued role as finance minister but appointed Wasim Jafri as her financial advisor. Beg made it clear to Bhutto that the military would not tolerate her interference in their control of defense and foreign affairs.
Among the problems facing Pakistan when Bhutto took the Premiership was soaring employment and high unemployment The Pakistani government was bankrupt, with Zia having borrowed at high interest rates to pay government wages. The country also faced a growing problem with the illegal narcotics trade, with Pakistan being one of the world’s highest heroin exporters and having rapidly growing levels of domestic usage. Bhutto promised that she would take tough action on the powerful drug barons. 60pc of the country’s population lived in Punjab province, which was under the control of Zia’s protege, Nawaz Sharif, as provincial Chief Minister.
Both Sharif and Bhutto attempted to remove the other from power, with Bhutto accusing Sharif of having rigged the election to become Chief Minister. Sharif benefited from growing Punjabi chauvinism toward the country’s Sindhi minority, as well as a perception that Bhutto a Sindhi was attacking the Punjab. Although Bhutto had long supported greater autonomy for Pakistan’s provinces, she opposed it in the case of the Punjab. . Relations between Bhutto and Pakistan’s civil service deteriorated, causing paralysis of many state affairs; Bhutto spoke of it as ‘Zia’s bureaucracy’ and her perceived anti-Punjabi stance impacted many civil servants, of whom 80pc were Punjabi. In April 1989, opposition parties organized a parliamentary no-confidence vote in Bhutto’s leadership, but it was defeated by 12 votes. Although she is no more in this world but the objectives of Benazir Bhutto are still alive in the shape of Pakistan People’s Party.
And they are still determine to serve the suffered nation in the shape of Mr. Balawal Ali Bhutto who is having a huge democratic family experience specially Mr. Asif Ali Zardari who has done the exceptional work to rebuild Pakistan economy and helped to re-enhance the GSP generalize system of priority for exportable Pakistan which came into real matured shape for future elected governments for the nation of Pakistan. Although Pakistan is still into the dark light of progress, which is not being, equalized due to passive policies and eternal immaturity of dharna group. That’s why Pakistan is still trying to be an economic Asian tiger but necessities of raw material in the shape of electricity power and gasses are the basics of this agenda, which is not caring and not allocating to deserving industrialization hubs to develop local goods to play the vital role to enhance the GDP of Pakistan.
—The writer is Chairman Pakistan Columnist Council and can be reached at figure786@hotmail.com

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