An open letter to Benazir Bhutto

Published: December 27, 2016

It is everyone’s responsibility, not just the PPP’s, to make sure that we do justice to your legacy and mission. PHOTO: REUTERS


It has been almost a decade since you met your untimely demise on December 27, 2007. It has been almost a decade since the day the country lost one of its greatest leaders. The state that Pakistan finds itself in today may not surprise you. Unlike the others, you had the foresight to see the storm we were heading towards when you spoke of secular values.

The state your party finds itself in today, however, will crush you.

Your party has always represented the best of Pakistan. From your iconic father, to people of unparalleled substance, brilliance and integrity like Meraj Muhammad Khan, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman and Malik Meraj Khalid among others. Despite these brilliant minds, despite your talented son at the helm of affairs, the party is a shadow of its former self, reduced to a mere regional player in Sindh.

Back in 1986, Lahore had welcomed you with one of the largest gatherings seen in Pakistan’s political history. Now, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been virtually wiped out from Punjab.

With the monster of religious extremism still biting away, with the poison of sectarianism still dividing us, your presence has never been missed more. You gave a whole nation hope. You inspired millions of girls into believing that one day they would stand up to this patriarchal society and celebrate their independence. You exhibited Pakistan’s best face to the global community. You were a publicist, administrator and leader, all rolled into one.

Of course you were not perfect. You had your flaws, like everyone else; the allegations of corruption and high-handedness, to name a few. But none of them were ever proven in the court of law. But you held the moral high ground in-spite of everything tossed your way. You even reached out to your old foe Nawaz Sharif to mend fences and put on a united front against Pervez MusharrafBut you never lived to see the end of Musharraf.

How you would have fixed this mess had you still been alive is something we may never know the answer to. What we do know, however, is that the idea of freedom and liberation you represented would have been worlds apart from the state Pakistan is in today. The country finds itself in an ideological fix, more than anything else. You would have offered an alternative to the left of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the two other mainstream political entities in Pakistan – an alternative that the country severely lacks.

But did your death represent the end of all that was good for PPP and Pakistan?

No it did not.

There are moments of brilliance exhibited by your son. As PML-N and PTI squabble like children, the only maturity seems to come from the PPP which has maintained a dignified distance from all the shenanigans despite being weak electorally. But it will take more than this. It will take resolve, commitment and hard work for Pakistan’s most progressive political party to become a force to be reckoned with again.

In your son, the party finds itself in talented, yet inexperienced hands. However, age is only a number, and you showed that when you took charge of the party at the age of 29 (1982), and then entered the prime minister’s office on a wave of euphoria when you were 35 (1988).

You, more than ever, would have wanted to be alive when your son achieves what his mother and grandfather achieved before him. You may not be present physically, but your spirit remains. The courage that locked horns with Ziaul Haq, the charisma that portrayed Pakistan in a positive light world over, and the resolve that made you return to your motherland despite the public threats to your life. It all remains, and it is everyone’s responsibility, not just the PPP’s, to make sure that we do justice to your legacy and mission.

Rest in Peace Bibi.

We will not let you down.

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

The writer works in the Education Sector and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Ooooff !! ……Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    BB & her spouse were fined & convicted by a Swiss court for corruption.Recommend

  • Usman

    The state she left Pakistan in, crushed all of us as well.

    None of her corruption charges were upheld in a court of law? riddle me this, I’ll put this in layman terms, since PPP resonates most with uneducated blue collar workers, when your employee refuses to give you a receipt for the purchase he was supposed to make, you can’t prove that he did corruption, but you know for a fact that this person either had malafide intentions, or is incapable of doing his job properly.

    One of our greatest leaders? I suppose when you compare her with military dictators and Nawaz she does suddenly look a lot better.

    I’m sorry, and i mean no disrespect to the author, but Benazir will always be remembered very harshly by history, and no amount of emotional rhetoric can change that.Recommend

  • Ravian

    An untimely and violent death always provokes sympathy, but apart from that, Benazir was the epitome of corrupt and inapt politicians of this country. Greatness was thrust upon her for being ZAB’s daughter. Her little power stints in 90’s were characterised by corruption and mismanagement. She married the most corrupt person that she could find in Pakistan. She met her demise for the same reasons that her father died ! Recommend

  • Patwari

    Agreed. But she was nothing compared to the Sharifs.
    [net worth $4 billion US dollars]
    They are the Gold Standard of Corruption. They can
    give lessons in corruption to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
    [one of the most corrupt politician on earth]. Or to any one else.
    You savvy?Recommend

  • Patwari

    When you write ” open letter” to dead politician,…then you
    are a pathetic blogger. Nothing more.Recommend

  • Sane

    It was hunger of power that brought Benazir to Pakistan. She was among those who pushed back Pakistan through corruption, nepotism, maladministration and mismanagement. She contributed in suffering and misery of people of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Fahim

    In 1988 when I had started Kindergarten. News paper was one of the best source of reading, it was headline in 1988, Benazir said “I lived most of my live abroad, I have seen developed countries and cities. I have all the capabilities and knowledge to deliver”. It was inspiring for me even at age of 4. After that PPP got central government for 5 years and 12 years in provincial government in BB’s life. I will always remember what she had said when contesting 1988’s elections and the performance that ruined every city of Sindh. Recommend

  • Fahim

    It is not for dead politicians, if you know writing good things about one of the biggest party of Pakistan can give you benefit in different ways. More beneficial if it is in bad stateRecommend

  • Gopal

    At age of 4 you could read!! A newspaper to boot!! Was it Englis/Urdu!??
    At age of 4 Mohtarma’s standard diatribe was inspiring to you!! What else
    could you do at age 4?? Fly an aeroplane? Drive a car? Debate in Sindhi?
    Do remember,…at age of 4 children are just learning their A ..B…C’s……Recommend

  • Fahim

    I am making a point about my earliest memories about Benazir to what she did practically. Reading a news paper at early age is not something very very extra ordinary. I have seen and met a lot of smarter people.Recommend

  • A.S

    well written ! Pakistan of 1988 was more liberal in views on gender equality than USA of 2016 that’s a positive note ,but one can read the comments on your blog and could find the below average mentality of even English readers let alone that of urdu readers. Those who have no mental approach to the historical facts and political background of Benazir’s struggle throughout her life couldn’t ever understand what she was stand for the poor of Pakistan and what PPP meant for Progressive &”Federal” Pakistan.Recommend