Who says that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is not with us anymore? She is a martyr and martyrs never die! Though physically she is not with us, but ideologically she is with us and always will be with us! Four years ago, an attempt was made to eradicate the roots of democracy for good from the country, put the people under the dark cloud of tyranny and usurp their fundamental rights. Above all, a nefarious design was implemented to throw this land into the era of darkness by martyring Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, on December 27, 2007. Though the anti-democratic forces managed to succeed in their objective physically, they failed ideologically. That was evident from the terrible grief, which had gripped the entire nation after Mohtarma’s death. Pakistan witnessed the mourning of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and the whole country went dumbfound.

The anti-democratic agents were unaware of the fact that ‘Benazir Bhutto’ was not just the name of a person, rather it is a vision that stands for democracy, development, progress, and social and economic uplift of people; it is also a fact that visions or ideas never die!

So, though Mohtarma Benazir is not physically present among us, but her vision and philosophy is still alive, leading us towards the establishment of a truly democratic Pakistan that is peaceful and honoured among the comity of nations.

When Benazir Bhutto was martyred, the democratic agents propagated the breakup of Pakistan. But thanks to her vision for democracy, as it saved the country from civil war and disintegration. And to PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s timely decision to contest the 2008 elections rather than boycott them. He also added a new dimension to traditional Pakistani politics by saying: “Democracy is the best revenge” and “Pakistan Khappay”.

Needless to say, it is a tradition that whenever the country is on the brink of destruction, the Bhutto’s are brought to the forefront to save it. For instance, after the dismemberment of East Pakistan and its emergence as an independent state now called Bangladesh, West Pakistan became too weak and was on the verge of collapse. However, it was only because of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s efforts that the country was not only saved from further deterioration, but he also raised the morale of the military and people; and soon Pakistan was included among the world’s most prestigious nations. But the prize that he received for his sincere efforts was death. Thus, the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan was hanged by a military dictator.

Therefore, whenever we look at the modern and progressive Pakistan of today or recall its history, we find that it is only the Bhuttos, who have so much for it. Undoubtedly, ‘Bhuttoism’ has become the symbol of democracy, progress and development.

Like ZAB, his daughter Benazir, as mentioned earlier, is the name of a vision that is as unique as she was! Her vision is a beckon of light that has rekindled the lives of frustrated people, who had lost all hopes of a bright future for Pakistan after the hanging of ZAB. Indeed, her vision needs to be followed and fulfilled by the coming generations.

Being the first woman Prime Minister of an Islamic country, she fought bravely with dictators and extremists and her opponents could not find any other way to stop her. That is why she was assassinated. Nevertheless, her vision teaches us to continue our struggle for democracy and it will be fulfilled only when we are able to achieve a purely democratic Pakistan. In other words, “Benazir’s Pakistan”! Inshallah, we, the PPP workers, will never abandon our mission, whether we are in the government or the opposition, to make the country as Mohtarma desired.

It was during her government that Pakistan progressed in the fields of health, education, energy and foreign investment. For the country’s economic uplift, a macroeconomic framework was devised, and the growth rate was raised and fiscal deficit was reduced. During her tenure, special attention was paid to the energy sector and the energy infrastructure programme was considered as a role model for the entire developing world. Primary schools were established, 95 percent of the urban population was provided sewage facilities and 100,000 houses were built for the needy and deserving people. In order to promote mother and child healthcare, 50,000 family planning workers were trained to provide the services in the family planning sector, after which a dramatic decrease in the fertility rate was observed and the growth rate reduced from 3.1 percent to 2.6 percent.

Bibi Shaheed was a world leader and her vision was for the entire developing world. For example, her vision for the third millennium provides an incredible opportunity to eliminate the gap between the rich and the poor states, subjugate illiteracy, hunger and malnutrition; provide equal rights for women and men where the birth of a girl child would be cherished as the birth of a boy; honour civil dialogue where consensus guides national and international debate, restore the people’s trust in the government; and observe religious tolerance. During her government, therefore, women police stations and banks were established for the uplift of women. In addition, they were given equal rights similar to men in every field, as the woman representation was ensured at the benches of higher judiciary and in process of legislation.

So, her vision denies race, colour and gender as the basics of distinction in society. More so, it is committed to the principles of democracy, as democracy and development go together; it is through democracy, diversity and pluralism that we can together build a world of interfaith and tolerance, and world free from terrorism.

Following her vision and reconciliation policy, the current government has taken gigantic steps for the strengthening of democracy and democratic norms in the country. The constitutional reforms have been introduced by the present government by passing the 18th Amendment, giving more autonomy to the provinces, formation of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), Aghaaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan package, provision of identity to KPK, creation of the Gilgit-Baltistan province, distribution of the NFC Award, and above all, for the economic uplift of the people, the introduction of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Waseela-e-Haq and other programmes have been launched by the government. Also, Parliament has been made more powerful and the powers of President have been curtailed. These are some glimpses about the performance of the government, which is sincerely following Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s vision.

In brief, I would like to add that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was, is and will remain with us in our lives. She has become a symbol of democracy, enlightenment, moderation, peace, tranquillity, harmony, progress, evolution, and development for the third world countries, and, indeed, her vision and philosophy will always guide us for the better.

n    The writer is the speaker of the             Provincial Assembly of Sindh.

    Email: Nisar.pppsindh@hotmail.com