10 years on, Benazir Bhutto’s legacy proves that “aaj bhi Bhutto zinda hai”

Published: December 27, 2017

I have high hopes for Bilawal and for the future of PPP under him.

Today marks the 10th death anniversary arguably one of the most prominent Pakistanis in the world, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Her death not only added to Pakistan’s ups and downs, but more importantly, led to a real leadership crisis in the country, as amongst all existing leaders today, none quite enjoys the stature possessed by Benazir. To date, she is the one and only symbol of a federation, a leader who enjoyed equal support from all across Pakistan.

Benazir did not acquire that stature merely because of her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, former prime minister of the country and one of our most prominent leaders in his own right. She became ‘Benazir Bhutto’, the symbol of peaceful democratic resistance, through the love she had for her party workers, her relentless struggle for Pakistan’s democracy, and the vision she had in mind to take Pakistan towards the path of further progress.

It was not just her father’s name, but also his spirit and charisma that she possessed, allowing her to reach the heights that she did. Zulfiqar Bhutto had two sons as well, Shahnawaz and Murtaza, and while both were good leaders and involved in politics in their own capacity, neither could gain the love and popularity that Benazir managed to, and that too in a society where sons are considered the true heirs to dynasties and women are not accepted as leaders.

Those who believe that Benazir emerged as a leader of the masses simply due to her father’s legacy are mistaken, as she could have chosen to live a happy life ruling her party from anywhere in the world, like certain other political leaders have done in Pakistan’s history. However, she chose to lead the movement against Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship from the ground, and when given the option, chose peaceful resistance over the path of a revolution. She was put on house arrest, sent to Sukkur Jail where she was tortured and deprived of the basic facilities that are a right of every prisoner.

One whole book would not be enough to detail the atrocities and injustices faced by Benazir, despite which she continued her struggle, until she was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Her struggle was for a democratic Pakistan; her vision a true reflection of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s vision for his country. She wanted to empower the downtrodden, the peasants, labourers, minorities, women, and all those who had been ignored or left behind by Pakistan’s powerful elite.

Today, after 10 years of Benazir’s death, her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the flag-bearer of her party. He was left on the driving seat of PPP just like his mother was after the hanging of her father. Just as his mother was left alone by close aides of her father as she struggled against a military dictatorship, he too lost a few stalwarts who were once close aides of his mother but left after her death.

However, these stalwarts have never been the power of PPP – that has always remained with the Bhuttos of Larkana and the Bhuttos of Pakistan (the poor masses), who stood together for democracy and managed to put PPP in power in Islamabad.

If one questions whether or not Bilawal is following in his mother’s footsteps, the answer is unequivocally yes.

I have had the honour of working with him as part of his media team, and have witnessed several qualities in him that senior PPP members would tell us Benazir possessed. His best quality, which I have personally witnessed, is his stamina to absorb criticism. I don’t have the words to explain how patiently he listens to the criticism of his workers. There are several party aides close to him who are critical of various party leaders, all voicing concerns that he takes seriously.

As far as his vision for Pakistan is concerned, he is the only leader in the country who speaks clearly with no ambiguity. For instance, he has been speaking against religious militancy since the beginning. When the majority wanted to have a dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it was Bilawal alone who openly opposed it, and was later proven right. Furthermore, I have never witnessed any inconsistencies in his words and actions, with his vision to empower minorities being a true reflection of Jinnah’s August 11th speech.

But with all this in mind, it is also true that Bilawal has to struggle a lot to make Pakistan a progressive state, which is not possible without bringing back the life into PPP. The downtrodden class of Pakistan today lacks choice – ImranNawaz, and the rest have either been custodians of the status-quo, or are themselves representatives of an elite class. It is Bilawal who could be the clear choice for the downtrodden and the youth of Pakistan, just because of his clear stance on the most important issues being faced by the country, including terrorism and foreign policy.

In the next general elections, it is the youth bulge, with millions of young voters that are going to decide the election and pave way for the next government. Whoever wins the hearts and minds of this majority, will form the next government. It is high time for Bilawal to bring in new and young candidates and faces to PPP. While PPP had younger candidates who managed to win seats in Sindh, however, the remaining kept relying on its old forts, which will have to change.

I would, however, like to request Bilawal to create a direct relationship between him and his workers. Even though he has tried to do this, there still exists a gap which should no longer remain if he is to succeed. I urge him to employ a public relations officer (PRO) who could help him in maintaining contact with workers and has experience being a political worker himself, as in his current team, no one other than his political secretary is a political worker.

There are forces that have been keeping Bilawal away from his workers and his supporters – I urge him to not let them win. After Benazir, it is Bilawal who is the custodian of this clan, known as jiyalas, and it is his responsibility to keep this clan alive. Introducing new blood to represent him and the party in factories, colleges, and in the media would be a good start.

I have high hopes for Bilawal and for the future of PPP under him. May he live long, may he prosper, and may he finally get to achieve his mother’s and grandfather’s vision for Pakistan; a vision they could not complete for themselves.


Zameer Ahmed Malik

Zameer Ahmed Malik

The author used to be in the political scene and is now a lecturer at a Law college and Correspondent at Capital TV. He tweets as @ZameerAMalik (twitter.com/ZameerAMalik)

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

  • Sidster

    It is funny how the writer remembers injustice of Pakistani Government While Benazi Bhutto was in Prison, while ignoring the fact that Now in Sindh, PPP is in power and they have done nothing to improve conditions in Prison. Spending lavishly to build Bilawal House on Super Highway, pay for Dr Asim Husain’s hospitalization, accommodating Sharjeel Memon in Prison with all facility, and getting bail from Sindh High Court for Jatoi on trial for Murder are the few things PPP can take credit of Accomplishments. Ignoring Education, Health care and depoliticizing Police is not Government’s Priority.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, Sindh has been looted to bare bones. Since Karachi is the financial
    hub of the country, money will still be made. The Water Mafia makes about
    $6 to $7 million [USD] a day. The provincial govt. [owned by Baby Bhutto and
    his abba] gets it’s cuts. Then there is the Transport Mafia, The Construction Mafia,
    other mafia’s you’ve never heard of. More than 4,000 ‘ghost schools’ and ‘ghost colleges.’
    They exist. Salaries going to off shore accounts. No one knows the real total.
    The “keep them illiterate and they will vote for you” philosophy is working fine for PPP.
    Nope, PPP does not want the Sindhis to become educated, next thing you know they
    will become informed and rise and vote you out. You see the conundrum? Fairly easy.
    All of this allows the Sindh govt. palatial homes in Dubai. And the Boss Man of the PPP
    lives in this chateau, outside Paris, France. To escape the blistering heat of Larkana.
    [He even paid $1 million ‘donation fee’ to attend Trump’s inauguration ceremony]
    And Baby Bhutto single handedly, did damage to a 5,000 year old archaeological
    site. Because he could. Because his abba owns Sindh. Plus he has the blood of
    10 month old Bisma, who died because his VVIP protocol would not let her enter
    the hospital where Baby Bhutto was inaugurating something, an x-ray machine?
    She had measles, treatable and a bad cold treatable. She could be alive right now.
    So Baby Bhutto is part and parcel of a very corrupt political party from Larkana, Sindh,
    that thrives on keeping it’s dead leaders dead memories alive at Garhi Khuda Baksh.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That was a terrible one sided write up …… dripping with sycophancy.Recommend

  • MJ

    I have done more for the people of Sindh by living in US and not doing ANYTHING AT ALL for it’s people when compared to PPP. PPP is working hard at looting and destroying the very land that puts it in power every election.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    This article is totally biased and far from the reality that is prevailing in Sindh since PPP came into power; first in federal 2008-2013 then provincial 2013-present. The writer has expressed his views based on the fact that he has turned eyes shut to the real situation. The reality is that, Sindh is the second most impoverished province of Pakistan and all thanks to Baby Bhutto and his Abbu Jee. Hundreds of children die every month in Thar due to lack of water and adequate supplies of food. The sanitary conditions from Karachi to Deharki are the most worse in the world. Law and Order Situations; well I think there is no Law and Order in Sindh, except whatever a Wadera will say will become a Law overnight. There is literally no concept of Education in Sindh. Poverty is up to its maximum through out and all the Govt. jobs are given out to only those who have some sort of strong recommendations from Waderas. In their tenure in Federal Govt. they looted Pakistan as if they would get a reward in heaven for that. When their federal tenure was finished, Pakistan was hanging by a worn out thread that could have snapped any second. So Please see the reality with your eyes, and oh one more thing once a person dies then he can no longer be called alive, that is the law of nature, i think you can understand what I mean.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Shameless nation who without any comparison used word such as legacy. PPP Slogan is bread,cloth and shelter not able to delivered in altogether 35 years a power because of corruption . So call legacy for power BB put her real mother in House arrest in the name of sickness like BB husband through a so call will become party chairman and his son become dummy Chairman of PPP to acquired Sympathy vote. PPP real legacy is corruption, assassin and by hook and crook be in power through Sympathy vote and move onRecommend

  • Bilal Khan

    Lol, You think in the passage of 35 years the respective democratic party did not face enough hurdles in their way. one after another the extremists threatened Shaheed Mohtarma! Where were people when Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was getting hung forcefully by dictatorship? Come on! ?Guys respect the party who sacrificed their lives one after another just to deliver the slogan!Recommend

  • John Doe

    PPP lived up to their political doctrine /slogan of Roti, Kapra aur Makan..those were the things PPP promised to take away from the nation…and they delivered what they promised….taking away Roti, Kapra aur Makan for past 40 some years and counting.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    You are very right.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    All the Hurdles you mentioned BB assets increase and Pakistan become 13th most corrupt nation on this earth Also Her Husband become Famous by nick name Mr 10% which become know 110% know I ask you a common sense question How it possible BB when in power does not know about her team involvement in corruption ? 2nd how She not know her brother assassin ? All that she did for be in power by hook and crook or NRO .Recommend

  • PPP Karachi Division

    Well Said BilalRecommend

  • PPP Karachi Division

    Bilawal house on super highway ? Pay for Dr Asim’s hospitalization ? He was admitted at Jinnah Hospital which is government’s hospital. Plz check your information before you utter it….Recommend

  • Patwari

    Sent there to Jinnah Hospital from his jail cell, where all
    prisoners go for medical treatment. Maintained in lavish
    style like a VVIP,… PPP wala. Special food, visitors allowed
    at all time. TV, personal servants. Like a suite at the Sheraton.
    Same place where Bisma died 10 feet from the hospital door,
    because Baby Bhutto’s protocol did not let her in.
    10 month old Bisma, died in her father’s arms.
    Jinnah Hospital, where murderer Sharukh Jatoi, whose father is
    close to Mr 10%, Baby Bhutto’s abbu, lived, in a well maintained,
    good, lifestyle.
    Shahrukh Jatoi, the murderer of Shahzaib, living in Jinnah Hospital
    in splendor, right up until his bail. Courtesy of PPP’s Big BossRecommend

  • Patwari

    Same ‘Mohtarma’, who removed $ 1.7 billion dollars [USD]
    from Pakland’s exchequer, during her two stints at the throne.
    [Newsweek, USA, investigations proved that in 2007 and
    confronted Mohtarma with it during an interview. Of course,
    she, very sweetly, denied it]
    The great Ardeshir Cowasjee proved it too.
    Anyone, have to be living under a rock, not to know this.Recommend

  • http://www.ebtikar.com.pk Farooq Ishaq

    Zulfikar Ali bhutto was never peoples mandate..he did not even win majority in election..he used fraud to become imposed on the nation like a devil..

    Funny enough she did not face any hurdles to increase net wealth and launder money to Switzerland. These corrupt politicians invented fake hurdles to divert attention away from their own loot and plunder..Recommend

  • Alex Maz

    this is an interesting news, have you heard that Dr. Tahir is going to another dharna..Recommend

  • Haider

    PPP karachi division please enlighten us with the tasks that PPP has performed worst period in the history. PPP dis nothing for our country they sould have alteast developed Sindh. all they did was make money for themselves and their supporters.Recommend