Benazir Bhutto Shaheed—–A leader

By Farahnaz Ispahani

“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 the invading armies. 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.” (Daughter of the East)

History will never forget 27th December, 2007, a blood stained day. The day Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was assassinated alongside her party workers after addressing a large public crowd in Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi.

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto did not fear death. She chose death among her people rather than staying away from her homeland. She was cognizant of the dangers to her life but she refused to bow before the dictator and the terrorists. She challenged the dictator and came out on the streets of Pakistan to lead the public toward democracy and justice. She strengthened democracy with her life-long and finally by the sacrifice of her own life.

Like her father before her she gave her life for Pakistan and democracy.

Throughout her life Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto struggled against regressive forces to make Pakistan a better place for the members of every sect, religion, linguistic group and community. She was loved by people of every creed and race, and language and color. From Parachinar to Karachi she was the only voice of the oppressed people of Pakistan. She was and is still the symbol of the Federation of Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto Shaheed began her political career during the brutal dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq . He embedded terrorism, extremism and an alien form of social norms and was the father of the armed militias Pakistanis are being murdered by even today.

Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and her mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto heroically fought Pakistan’s most tyrannical dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

In her book “Daughter of the East” Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of  Pakistan’s first democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan is a testimony of her relentless struggle for justice and her personal courage and valour. For six months Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was kept imprisoned in Sukkur jail under harsh conditions. After being released from Sukkur Jail she was hospitalized for months as her health had suffered greatly as a result. Later she was shifted to Karachi central jail where she remained in prison till 11 December 1981. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s pains did  not end here. She was placed under house arrest in Larkana for eleven months and then in Karachi for fourteen months.

Pain, distress and difficulties were hurled on the Bhutto family which was bravely borne by both, mother and daughter. Those who were once close allies abandoned them. But the workers of the PPP, the true soul of the party went to jail, were tortured, their families were harassed but they kept the faith.


Shaheed Benazir went on to become the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Muslim world and was elected again – after a Prime Ministerial stint by Mr Nawaz Sharif where once again Shaheed Benazir and her family and workers were hounded by false cases, propaganda and jail terms.

On her return to Pakistan after a long exile on October 18, 2007 two blasts hit her welcoming rally and 275 party workers lost their lives while over 600 were injured. Even this tragic episode of Karsaz did not deter her and she continued with her political struggle for Pakistan and its people.

At the end Benazir Bhutto gave her life on December 27th 2007 while fighting the dictator and extremist forces among her people.

Today, democracy exists in this country and the original Constitution has been restored because of the relentless sacrifices of the Bhutto family.

Shaheed Mohtarma always dreamed of a Pakistan, free from poverty, terrorism, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption, inflation and sectarian violence. She persevered and struggled to make Pakistan a a peaceful, progressive and tolerant educated society.

Today, orphans are given shelters with better education in “Sweet Homes of Pakistan” under the legacy of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and poor women are supported economically through Benazir Income Support Program.

Provinces have been empowered under the 18th amendment and parliamentary supremacy has returned. Gilgit and Baltistan have been granted their due rights and the FCR has been passed. Attempts to empower Balochistan have begun through Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package. These objectives of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed have been fulfilled by the PPP under the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari. President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani have also pursued her policy of reconciliation which has brought almost all political parties under the same roof for the betterment of the Pakistani people, supremacy of constitution and strengthening of democracy.

The true greatness of Benazir Bhutto lay in her gift of love for her children, her parents, her friends, her party and its workers and for Pakistan. I will always be grateful for the time I had with her. She remains my inspiration.

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto shall be remembered forever in history for her bravery, persistence and sacrifices.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto — We salute you By Farahnaz Ispahani

Begum Nusrat Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto with my Grandfather

The political history of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been one of relentless and unyielding struggle to restore democracy in Pakistan in the face of overwhelming resistance by the forces of tyranny and dictatorship.

Though this history is rich with the stories of strong and courageous individuals, any history of the PPP, or that of democracy in Pakistan more broadly, would be incomplete without recognizing the pivotal role played by Begum Nusrat Bhutto.

Begum Bhutto was not of the usual mould. She was a highly determined woman who refused to give up her mission to lead her nation towards democracy in spite of the brutal oppression suffered not only by her, her children and her larger family of the PPP, but, indeed, by all of Pakistan. She played a vital role in the empowerment of Pakistani women, both as first lady during the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Shaheed, and later as a senior member of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s cabinet.

Born Nusrat Ispahani, the young woman from an Iranian Pakistani family who grew to love her adopted country, rests today in the soil of Sindh.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto’s political role does not start with Ziaul Haq, but it was during his rule that her determination was forged of an unbreakable iron. With her eldest daughter, Benazir, Begum Bhutto fought fearlessly to save her husband, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whose life was stolen by the most vicious military dictator in our nation’s history; a dictator who denounced democracy, abrogated the constitution, cynically toyed with religion, and denied the basic rights of the people.

Too strong to be easily intimidated, Begum Nusrat Bhutto was motivated by the depth of Zia’s tyranny, and she put her heart and soul into the fight for the restoration of democracy, the Constitution and basic human rights. She stood steadfast against a usurper and dictator not out of any desire for personal gain, but out of an unwavering dedication to her principles.

Many were intimidated by Gen Ziaul Haq and quickly acquiesced in his rule; but for Begum Nusrat Bhutto there was never a moment of doubt. The fundamental rights of the Pakistani people could not be sacrificed at the altar of dictatorship.

Dubbed “the Iron Lady of Pakistan”, Begum Bhutto was the backbone of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) – a coalition comprising PPP and other democratic political parties determined to restore the democratic order on which Pakistan was founded.

Today, Begum Nusrat Bhutto serves as a role model for Pakistan’s democratic political leaders.

For women, too, both in Pakistan and around the world, Begum Nusrat Bhutto is a role model.

We recall the time when many men surrendered before the threat of a dictator’s military strength. And we recall too that at this critical juncture in our nation’s history, it was a woman, Nusrat Bhutto, who refused to remain silent. We watched closely as she and her daughter, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, demonstrated a rare strength of character and dedication to principles.

Our hearts broke as these strong women courageously bore the pain of losing their husband and father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and their son and brother, Shahnawaz Bhutto, during Zia’s tyrannical rule.

Having already sacrificed more than any mother should be asked to, Begum Bhutto soon lost her elder son Mir Murtaza Bhutto as well, followed by the martyrdom of her daughter Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. She is survived by her daughter Sanam Bhutto and her grandchildren.

We must also remember that, prior to the government of Z A Bhutto Shaheed, women had very restricted rights in Pakistan. The Bhuttos helped change this by raising the status of women in Pakistan – progress that could not have been achieved without Begum Nusrat Bhutto’s exceptional interest in women’s empowerment.

Demanding recognition of the worth of women, Begum Bhutto once said, “Women here (in Pakistan) are treated like pieces of furniture…[but] we are human beings, and we should be heard.” She believed women should play a decisive role in the affairs of their country, helping to make Pakistan a stronger and more progressive state.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto proved to Pakistan’s women that a woman was capable of much more than what our society defines and teaches them, or perhaps even expects of them. She inspired and helped to guide Pakistan’s women out of the darkness of ignorance towards the light of emancipation.

As a mother she gave the nation brave and well-educated children who knew the virtues of sacrificing for principles and of giving a voice to the poor and oppressed.

With her husband and her children, she chose a life of sacrifice and discomfort over luxurious living so as not to betray her nation by bowing before tyrants and surrendering democracy. She watched with pride as her children led the nation in the fight for democracy, even sacrificing their lives for Pakistan and its people.

As a political role model, she not only kept the mission of Z. A. Bhutto Shaheed alive but also consolidated the PPP for the cause of democracy. As a woman, she set an example that a woman in Pakistan is not a piece of furniture, but can be a motivated champion of democracy and human rights.

Today, people from all over Pakistan, the region and the world honour her life and remember her services and sacrifices in the cause of democracy.

She has left behind orphans in the millions of Pakistanis who, from the far flung tribal area of Parachinar to the mountainous areas of Gilgit Baltistan and Skardu, to the seashore of Karachi, call her “Mother”. Her life serves as a guide for how to stand up for the principles of democracy and human rights.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto will always be remembered as the “Mother of Democracy” who taught us that when the cause of your country so demands, we must be willing to sacrifice wealth, comfort, and even our lives.

One of the most elegant women I have ever had the privilege to know, Begum Nusrat Bhutto was the embodiment of courage, beauty and grace.

May her soul rest in peace.

The writer is a Member of the National Assembly and Media Advisor to the Co-chairman PPP

Published in daily Times as\10\27\story_27-10-2011_pg7_11

Husain Haqqani, Hardest Working Man in DC: Jeffrey Goldberg


Life for many members of Washington’s diplomatic corps is, one imagines, pretty much a picnic. For example, the ambassador fromBarbados generally faces no career-threatening crises. Nor does the ambassador from Luxembourg.
Others have trickier assignments. The ambassador from Yemen, Abdulwahab Abdulla al-Hajjri, can’t be having an easy time lately, especially since his brother-in-law is his country’s beleaguered and despised president. The ambassador from Bahrain, Houda Nonoo, is in the supremely odd position of being a Jewish woman representing a Sunni Muslim monarchy that oppresses a Shiite majority.
The ambassador with the hardest job in Washington is undoubtedly Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani, a skilled and wily diplomat who faces the near-impossible task of representing a country that Washington considers at once a crucial ally and a treacherous adversary.
A one-time Islamist turned pro-democracy Americaphile, Haqqani is seen by many in his own country as an American toady. But some of his critics, including many of Pakistan’s generals, benefit materially from Haqqani’s work as his country’s most effective interpreter and apologist.
Bin Laden Dilemma
Haqqani’s entire tenure as ambassador has been an exercise in crisis management. But the crisis has become truly perilous since a U.S. Navy SEAL team found Osama bin Laden living quietly in a city not far from Pakistan’s capital and killed him May 2.
Pakistan saw the raid as a gross violation of its sovereignty; the U.S. saw Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan as, at the very least, proof of Pakistan’s unwillingness to fight terrorism. Since the raid, the countries have behaved like an about-to-be-divorced couple: The Pakistanis have been rolling up CIA networks, and the U.S. has suspended $800 million in military aid.
I visited Haqqani recently at his embassy, which is across the street from the Israelis (of all people), to talk about the diverse impossibilities of his assignment. He didn’t completely disagree with me when I suggested that he has the worst job in the city.
“You can call it the worst, or the best,” he said. “I see it as the single most challenging.”
Double-Layered Problem
Haqqani faces a double-layered problem. Not only is his country viewed by many on Capitol Hillas an enemy state, but also Pakistanis at home have turned ferociously anti-American. So Haqqani spends as much time explaining America to Pakistan as he does explaining Pakistan to America.
He recently visited his country’s National Defense University and asked a group of officers, “What is the principal national security threat to Pakistan?” A plurality named not India, or al-Qaeda, but the U.S.
Haqqani blames Pakistan’s democratic nature (he has taken to speaking as if the Pakistani military doesn’t have veto power over decisions made by the civilian government) for part of the country’s anti-U.S. turn.
“Because we are a democracy now, the political leadership, while maintaining good relations with the United States, does not want to risk too much politically in terms of speaking out on behalf of this relationship. So I end up having to do the speaking out for this bilateral relationship.” He paused, then said, “Which causes issues for me.”
Mutual Suspicions
He also blames the policies of the U.S. “You can’t have a relationship with a country just by making demands on it. Pakistanis ask why you don’t understand our domestic politics. Americans have to take into account that the primary emotion on the Pakistani side is abandonment and a feeling that America doesn’t respect us. Of course, I turn around and say that these are reasonable assertions, but with all due respect we have to understand their domestic compulsions as well.”
He went on, “If the primary emotion on our side is abandonment, the primary emotion on the American side is deception, that the Pakistanis deceived us.”
Whatever their reasons, it’s delusional for Pakistanis to think of the U.S. as an enemy. Although the U.S. has sometimes been a feckless partner, it is no more an enemy of Pakistan than it is of India. The U.S. spends billions of dollars on civilian and military aid to Pakistan (much of it negotiated by Haqqani), and Washington would very much like to trust in Pakistan’s friendship.
The American street, however, is deeply frustrated. One doesn’t have to believe that top Pakistani officials knew of Bin Laden’s Abbotabad hideaway — I don’t — to view Pakistan’s support for the militants killing Americans in Afghanistan as the action of a hostile state.
And so Haqqani spends most of his time patching the relationship, especially on Capitol Hill.
Deepening Crisis
His work was made particularly difficult last week, when accusations surfaced that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, was secretly funneling money to U.S. political candidates to sway them to Pakistan’s side. “Out of 11 congressional offices I visited, five put the newspaper with that story in front of me. I’m trying to come and talk about the big picture issues,” he said.
It is because the Obama administration, and Congress, like Haqqani more than they like other Pakistani officials that he can be as effective as he is.
Perhaps his finest moment came during the case of Raymond Davis, the bungling CIA contractor accused of fatally shooting two people on a street in Lahore. The U.S. claimed Davis possessed diplomatic immunity; the Pakistanis disagreed.
The case was turning into the biggest crisis between Pakistan and the U.S. in years when Haqqani helped engineer an elegant solution: He turned to sharia, Muslim law, which allowed the dead men’s families to be compensated with blood money. This is the ploy that sprang Davis from jail.
Nearing Breakup
But the Davis matter pales in comparison to today’s tensions. Pakistan and the U.S. are near the point of breakup, with devastating consequences for the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Hillary Clinton, who was visiting India last week, essentially designated Pakistan’s traditional adversary as a strategic partner.
There’s only so much a single ambassador can do. What’s most noticeable today in the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is the fatigue caused by the comprehensive dysfunctions between them. Haqqani sees this fatigue wherever he goes.
“I try to explain these countries to each other. Sometimes I meet people who say, ‘Oh, God, here is the man who has an explanation for everything.’”
(Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer of this article: Jeffrey Goldberg at
To contact the editor responsible for this article: Timothy Lavin at
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