Benazir Bhutto, the other name of democracy – by Saria Benazir

“Jeevay, jeevay, Bhutto jeevay! Live, live, Bhutto live!” the crowds roared in Punjabi, a sentiment that just three months before would have cost them rigorous imprisonment and lashes. “Munjhe bhen, thunje bhen, Benazir—My sister, your sister, Benazir,” others called out in Sindhi. There were slogans in Urdu, in Pashto, in every dialect of every region in Pakistan. “Benazir, ay gi, Inqilab ly gi—Benazir will come, revolution will come,” our supporters had said before my return. Now they called out loudly, “Benazir ay hai, inqilab ly hai—Benazir has come, revolution has come.” When I waved, the crowds waved. When I clapped my hands over my head as my father had done, the crowds clapped back, their upraised arms undulating like ripples on a vast field of wheat.”

The 10th of April, 1986 was a red letter day in the history of Pakistan, so was it in the narration of the world_ when it witnessed the dauntless leader – the Daughter of Destiny, who had lost her father and young brother – both of them, who had laid down their lives, fighting for the rights of their people during the Martial Law of Zia ul Haq and this day, the daughter of a martyred father stood on the same grime of Pakistan, aiming to accomplish the delusions of her father and provide “Bread , Clothing and Shelter” to the people of her state_ She returned to provide justice to all_ to hand over the power to her people, Yes, to give every influence to the commons of her state.

Although, she knew of all possible threats in the way of her aspirations and of course, at this time too, the same Zia ul Haq was ruling Pakistan_ Benazir came and she came with an optimism_ a hope of a vivid and glorious future_ of incredible moments_ of continuing the bequest of her father_ of bringing an era of prosperity in her state_ Yes! It was the valor of Benazir and only Benazir Bhutto.

That great instant_ when Benazir stepped on the soil of her beloved Pakistan were indeed, unforgettable ones _ The titanic sea of support for the woman of century, who was at last, back to her own land, after years of sufferings _ of prison, of exile, of house imprisonment, but one thing remained palpable that Benazir Bhutto was never going to quit_ She was never going to stay back from her commitment to bringing democracy_ The rule of the people, for the people and by the people in Pakistan. The support of the crowds was spectacular_ Every eye was waiting to catch a glimpse of her _ every ear, impatient to listen a few words from her and the soil of Pakistan _ waiting dreadfully to feel the touch of Benazir’s feet on its domain _ that was the day of merriment_ Finally, the people felt a reprieve after their decade of suffering under the government, based on the lame slogan of Narai Haq, Zia ul Haq…This day, even his supporters forgot that slogan and raised their voice with the patriots, Narai Bhutto, Jeay Bhutto….

“Home. I was home. As I stepped onto Pakistani soil, I paused to feel the earth under my feet, to breathe the air of which I was a part. I had flown into Lahore many times. I had spent many happy times here. But it was also the city where my father had been condemned to death. Now I was coming back to challenge his murderer, the general who had committed high treason by overthrowing the Constitution.”

Benazir Bhutto _ who was by this time, the crest of democracy . An icon of people’s power and federation _ who by this time had faced all cruelties_ every torment, but stood firm on her manifesto “ Islam is our religion. Democracy is our policy. Socialism is our economy. All power to the people and Martyrdom is our destination”. The world of Pakistan had altered_ the perspective was roofed with the red, green and black flags of Pakistan Peoples Party _ The world was watching the sea of support for democracy _ which could not be failed by the dictator of the time Zia ul Haq, _ who was by the time, too deprived _ Yes….. He was too scrawny to defy the preference and covet of the people_ for every heart, every voice cried out BENAZIR, BENAZIR_ BENAZIR_ SARAY SOBO KI ZANJEER_ PHOLO KI MEHAK BENAZIR, and BULBUL KI CHEHAK BENAZIR……

“There are moments in life which are not possible to describe. My return to Lahore was one of them. The sea of humanity lining the roads, jammed on balconies and roofs, wedged in trees and on lampposts, walking alongside the truck, and stretching back across the fields, was more like an ocean. The eight mile drive from the airport to the Minar-i-Pakistan in Iqbal Park usually takes fifteen minutes. On the unbelievable day of April 10, 1986, it took us ten hours.

The figure of one million people at the airport grew to two million, then three million by the time we reached the Minar-i-Pakistan.

Hundreds of colored balloons soared into the sky as the airport gates opened. Rose petals, not tear gas, filled the air, showering onto the truck until they rose above my ankles. Garlands of flowers flew through the air. I saw a girl whose brother had been hanged and threw a garland to her. More garlands were thrown onto the truck, as were hundreds of handmade dupattas and shawls. I put one dupatta after another on my head and slung others on my shoulder.

When we passed former political prisoners I recognized in the throng, I threw flowers and the embroidered cloths to them as well as to the families of those who had been hanged or tortured, and the young and very old women who lined the route.
The black, green, and red colors of the PPP seemed the only colors in Lahore that day. PPP banners and flags billowed in the dry, hot breeze until they formed an almost continuous canopy. People were wearing red, green, and black vests, dupattas, shalwar khameez, hats. Donkeys and water buffalo had PPP ribbons braided into their manes and tails. The same colors rimmed photographs and posters of my father, my mother, my brothers, me.”

Everything had transformed _ All foes of democracy had gone into sixes and sevens, after seeing the gigantic crowd of millions of people_ waiting for Benazir and giving a warm welcome to Benazir_ Promising to stay with her_ vowing to support her under all circumstances_ The Pakistan Peoples Party became the undisputed voice of the people of Pakistan_ The rivals of Pakistan Peoples Party too were compelled to call out ZINDA HAI BHUTTO ZINDA HAI, seeing that cavernous adoration for Bhutto ism among the hearts of the people.

Long Live Shaheed Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto.




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