By Jamil Ahmed Soomro
Benazir Bhutto was a genius. She had an analytical mind, and was a decision maker. While others on committees would fumble for days, and perhaps weeks, strategizing party policies, she would quickly analyze the situation within a matter of seconds and come up with a creative solution and new directives.
She greatly contributed to political history of Pakistan and the entire Middle East. She was very well known for being one of the sole, if not the sole Pakistani politicians that was a woman. Looking closer, we find how inspirational and influential this woman really was to politics in Pakistan. We’ll discover her aspirations, her political agenda, her accomplishments and many important details that are necessary to understand the life of Benazir Bhutto.
Ms. Bhutto was born on June 21st, 1953. Although not very much is known about her early childhood, it is known that at age sixteen, she was sent to Harvard to obtain her undergraduate degree. During this time, she began to develop her goals and world view. She decided that she would like to follow in her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister at the time.
Not soon after graduating, Bhutto’s father was executed by the new Military government instated in Pakistan. It is suspected that she wished to fulfill her father’s dream of a “better” Pakistan. She decided she would try to be Prime Minister herself. Unfortunately, when she returned, she was arrested by the new government. After being imprisoned for about three years, she was finally released. She then exiled herself to London, England until the current military regime had been overthrown. In 1986, she returned to Pakistan and formed a new party, the Pakistan People’s Party, referred to as the PPP. During the next election, Benazir Bhutto won and became the first woman to ever govern a Muslim Nation.
During her time in power, her goals where, “to restore democracy, stimulate economic growth, and defeat the jihadists.” As soon as she was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, she accomplished her first goal of restoring democracy to her country. She gave all of Pakistan’s citizens many freedoms and restored the vote for prime minister as well. Bhutto also tried to stimulate the failing economy
A charismatic leader, she had a magnetic personality. Her star power and striking beauty made her more charismatic than Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy combined. Her sophistication and diplomacy par excellence led her to an international exposure and experience far exceeding any of the other leaders in Pakistan. She had a large network of friends and admirers around the world. The world community respected her, and she was accorded the protocol of a princess. I quoted a meeting of the World Political Forum in Italy in 2003, in which when she walked into the conference hall, almost forty world leaders stood up and applauded her entrance. Her magic and the chemistry gave her anaura of confidence whenever walked into airports, hotel lobbies or restaurants. The world would freeze around her as everyone would turn to stare at her in admiration. She would stop a conversation or an activity just by walking into a room. As she lectured at universities around the world, an audience of 300 to 400 would be drawn to her, bedazzled and absorbing every word she spoke. She was east and she was west in one. It will take decades of research to study what made her a
She was intelligent and wise, well educated and well read. Her favorite shopping at airports before departure would be non-fiction bestsellers, autobiographies, books on history and philosophy, and on leadership and development. She would devour every newspaper at the newsstand in a matter of
minutes. Her photogenic memory would remember everything and everyone by names, including what had transgressed at their last meeting even months or years ago, and that too without notes.
Sometimes we would disagree, but when we would go back to reflect on the disagreement, time would tell that we were all wrong and she was right. She would bring experts to embarrassment, be they economists or cardiologists. She could mentally calculate numbers faster then most individuals could.
She also had many other interests in life: feng shui, astrology, alternate medicine, health, nutrition, you name it. She was a talking computer and a walking encyclopedia built in one, and had the ability to multi-task, handling three to four items simultaneously.
She had the gift of eloquence in her speech. Preparing all her speeches herself, she was a orator like her father, and was one of the most sought after speaker in the international arena. Turning down a very large number of speaking assignments around the world, she would selectively accept only those which would fit conveniently into her hectic travel schedule. She could be in Phoenix one afternoon, San Francisco the other, New York the third, and London the fourth. But then at a different level, she could also relate to children, relatives and friends at the same time. She could just communicate effortlessly with people of all walks of life.
Above all, she was a human being, a loving, caring individual, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, who cared for her children and family.
When at home, she would exclusively dedicate time in the evening with her children, discussing their interests in life, as well as relating her own stories of her experiences, a continued training for the future generations of politicians. She would also spend weekends with her family as well take care of her ailing mother. She was spiritual and pious, offered prayers, did regular walks late at night, practiced yoga, go shopping, and had a craving for chocolates and ice-creams as well.
When she lived, she followed in the footsteps of her father’s legacy. However, her assassination has been a wake up call for all of us. We have just discovered that she has a legacy of her own. Her book, “Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West” is a manifestation of her beliefs and her vision on the new world order, which she had completed just one week before her departure for the eternal. Her vision for Pakistan is spelt out in the PPP Election Manifesto 2008 which she authored.
Her struggle for democracy is expressed in her revised autobiography, “Benazir Bhutto: Daughter of the East”. Her dream is narrated in her poetic composition, “The Story of Benazir: From Marvi of Malir and Shah Latif’ which she composed in exile on her fiftieth birthday. Her legacy has been left behind for the nation to follow.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was a jewel in the crown and the hope of the nation. She was a royalty who ruled souls and hearts. The tragedy has broken our spirits. This country will never be the same without her, at least for this generation. Bibi is gone but her legacy will continue.