|Biographical detail : ||Daughter of tragedy
Benazir Bhutto will be remembered as the politician who took on Pakistan’s generals and won, and also as the Muslim world’s first woman leader that propelled her to global fame.
But she will also be celebrated as a daughter of tragedy whose death was like a chronicle foretold. The house of Bhutto lost another member; father, two sons and now a daughter all died unnatural deaths
She had escaped a bigger suicide attack the day she arrived in October 2007, from exile, in Karachi two months before her assassination – a manifestation of the threat to her life, which extremists had pledged to carry out before her arrival. She returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile to contest the election in January 2008.
Benazir’s return followed after much publicised talks of a power-sharing deal with General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president. The President dropped corruption charges and allowed her to return to Pakistan. But the extremists were annoyed with her unqualified support to the US ‘war on terror’ and her willingness to play ball with the Bush administration.
Benazir Bhutto may have been the first woman prime minister of a Muslim country but she was twice ousted on corruption charges, which she fought for the rest of her political life. She returned from self-exile to Pakistan in 1986, led her People’s Party to victory in elections and became prime minister (1988-1990). From then it was downhill all the way; in the same year she married a playboy, Asif Ali Zardari whose alleged corruption and highhandedness led to her government being toppled in 1990. She again became prime minister (1993 to 1996) and again dismissed by the president. Her regime is now remembered for corruption and inefficiency.
Benazir Bhutto was in born in Karachi into a Sindhi feudal family and her politicisation began early through her father, who was foreign minister. She studied at Harvard and Oxford. She died in Rawalpindi after a suicide bomber attacked her campaign vehicle. The manner and timing – violent – of her death will bestow her the status of a martyr.
The Benazir saga is enigmatic and fascinating like any screen epic. She was a deeply polarising figure, the self-styled “daughter of Pakistan” and a woman of complex and often contradictory instincts. The egalitarian credo that she preached as a politician found little echo in the lives of the impoverished men and women many of them indentured workers, who worked the family’s ancestral lands.
The American bid to restore her to power in Islamabad reflected her tireless efforts to maintain a network of the powerful among the political media elite in Washington and in London. It tragically cost her life.
Regardless of what modus operandi appealed to her – and she took many that surprised her political adversaries – Benazir Bhutto remained a force to reckon with right until the end.