Martyred Bibi’s Vision

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan, London
The writer can be reached at: w.hasan@virgin.net
London: My mind, heart and soul refuse to accept that she is no more with us. Every day that I have passed ever since she was cold-bloodedly assassinated on December 27 last year by the cruellest scum on earth it has been an unending painful agony from a wound deep down that refuses to heal. Despite application of strongest will to control–whenever I have to speak and write about her -though my eyes by now should have got dried of tears-a cascade overflows involuntarily.

Those who know me well for decades will vouch that I have exceptionally high pain endurance threshold. That does not help when I think of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who I used to address in deference and profound affection as “Respected Bibi”. Indeed, she was the only sister I had.

Besides many other things that I learnt from her in my life that made me what I am today, I am computer literate because of her. I will never forget the day in June 1997 when I was rushed to Rawalpindi ‘s Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology from the notorious Adyala Jail in a precarious condition. Bibi sought special permission from the hospital commandant to see me. . Besides three books she brought a laptop-my first ever. And handing it over she caringly remarked: “I am appalled by your health condition. Inshalllah you will soon recover and be a freeman as well. You are a Capricorn and I know what they are made of.” By the luckiest stroke of fate for me Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and I share the same birthday (January 5).

Bibi spent nearly two hours in the hospital and she talked about many things including the then political situation in the country. One of her remarks was rather pertinent. “Soon both will dig their own graves and rest in peace”. Looking retrospectively events later proved her prophetically correct. One of the three books that she gave me was Thucydides’ book on history. “I want you to read it. I hope some day you will write history of Pakistan as you have seen it made”. She also wanted me to write a book about great women that I met during my long career as a journalist.

My computer-ever since then-has become most essential part of my life. As far as she was concerned she was not only workaholic but computer addict as well. She virtually organised, ran and monitored PPP through inter-net. She would get the most classified information from the party workers spread in the nook and corner of Pakistan and who were given access to her email address. She would be informed by her “eyes and ears” who in the party was doing what. Whenever her party people would converge in London , Dubai or elsewhere to meet her-she would just drop a hint or two- to let them know-she knew “what the butler saw”.

I don’t know if there is any other politician in the world who used computer and internet as much as she did. She would draft hundreds of letters and statements in a week to be passed to her office in Islamabad-to be issued in the name of this or that office-bearer, leader or worker-to sustain pressure on the dictator, to rebut promptly any misleading or incorrect news, to campaign and lobby internationally to mobilise pro-democratic forces to come to the aid of people of Pakistan struggling for their inalienable right to elect a government of their choice by their vote.

Even in very personal emails too she used to reiterate her commitment to revert Pakistan to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e.Awam, to the empowerment of the people as sole arbiter of power and equal citizens– irrespective of their caste, creed or colour. Her vision of Pakistan was that of a nation-state with maximum provincial autonomy to the federating units.

She was profoundly concerned about the growing religious extremism in Pakistan . And she had pledged her life to save Pakistan from falling in the clutches of Taliban. And she-indeed-gave her blood-to nurture strength to it and nourish democracy.

Had General Pervez Musharraf listened to her sane advice following the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 in Delhi when she pleaded with him to distance himself from the Jihadi groups, Pakistan today would not have been pushed to such a tragic pass and cornered by the Indian coercive diplomacy despite its genuine innocence vis-à-vis Mumbai terrorist attack-as categorically upheld by the Director General of the Interpol who came on record to declare that India had neither provided any evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in it nor has it given any proof about the sole terrorist held by it of having come from Pakistan. There is lot of weight in the observation of independent analysts that Delhi has been using its recently acquired strategic partnership with Washington for blackmailing Pakistan .

Reproduced below is an email from Bibi from Dubai dated January 2, 2006 in response to my New Year greetings. Its relevance today is because of its contents that show how confident she was that return of democracy in Pakistan was around the corner. Alas Pakistan has today a formidable democracy led by President Asif Ali Zardari as the torch bearer of her glorious legacy but when the country needed her most she is not.

—–Original Message—–
From: MBB [mailto:sazdubai@emirates.net. ae]
Sent: 02 January 2006 08:38
To: ‘Wajid Shamsul Hasan’
Subject: RE: greetings from wsh

Dear Wajid Bhai,

Wishing you, Zarina, Zulfikar and Aneela a very happy new year. May God
grant you joy and happiness and may you achieve what you desire.

Thank you for your new year message. It is amazing how yet another year
has passed by. It seems only yesterday that I was filled with happiness
because Asif had joined us for the New Year and we took the children out
for lunch and ate as a family. Time goes by so fast. But by the Grace of
Allah, we have all been able to survive the tests of life. I feel in my
bones that now the time is coming where the people will get their

democratic rights and we can once again begin the journey that can

help us build a constitutional system guaranteeing human dignity and
protecting the weak and the endangered.

I am thinking of contesting the Senate elections but have not yet made
up my mind. The people I talk to within the Party and without are both
divided on whether it is a good move. I still have a little time to
reflect on it.

Meantime our entire top rank of the Party has been wiped out in the
Senate elections. I did ask them to lobby for a system where in so far
as possible each party lost proportionately the same numbers. However,
they felt they had better chances in the general draw and I suppose now
live with the consequences.

I take this opportunity to wish you an early happy birthday. Your spirit
is strong and you are very determined as are all those born on this day.
It is the strength of the heart that gives one the energy to live life
and to pursue ones ideals. Those without ideals are like lost souls who
have no meaning to their lives. You have that energy which gives you the
ability to pursue the goals so important to our party and to our nation.
and I cannot believe you will be sixty five because you look fifty and
write as though you are thirty. Your memory is phenomenal as are the
incidents that you can capture at your finger tips.

I pray that by the will of Allah 2006 marks the end of the period that
began a decade ago in 1996. Our people deserve better, as does our
Nation, than an unelected monster imposing one man rule through the
power of the gun who bends over backwards to lick the boots of his
foreign masters and has no respect for his own people whom he insults
daily with his myopic vision and white elephant projects. Pakistan as a
nation state is endangered by khaki rule that has already disintegrated
our country and threatens to do so again.

I pray for your long life, health, wealth and happiness. I am blessed to
have you by my side as we fight for the democratic rights of our people.
Your support to me personally, to the party through your activities and
advice and to the country through your writings mark you as an
exceptional person. May God bless you and may we enter 2006 on a wave of success that leads to the restoration of constitutionalism, federalism,
democracy, provincial autonomy and peoples rights.

Bibi

—–Original Message—–
From: Wajid Shamsul Hasan [mailto:w.hasan@virgin.net]
Sent: Sunday, January 01, 2006 5:40 PM
To: MBB
Subject: greetings from wsh

A VERY HAPPY 2006!!

Respected Bibi,

Yet another year has gone by leaving behind a long story of smiles and
sniffles pushing us into 2006. As we look back at the distressing times
spent in exile what invigorate and inspire to keep on striving head high
like Shaheed Bhutto is your presence and the strength of your
leadership.

Inshallah, I hope to be 65 (on January 5)–though bones are wearing
off-it is your stout perseverance, determination and encouragement in
future that has been keeping the spirit in me strong. I am convinced of
the adage that people grow old by deserting their ideals; no doubt years
wrinkle their skin, it is when they give up enthusiasm and commitment
for the honourable causes that we live by that wrinkles the soul. And
when soul is lost all is lost.

Zarina, Anela and Zulfikaur join me in wishing you, Begum Sahiba, Asif,
Bilawal, Bakhtwar and Aseefa a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2006,
and may Allah, the Most Generous, hold us all in togetherness.

Inshallah, 2006 shall be the year of the change–a change that will be
rewarding for you and the country. People’s long wait shall soon end,
harking you back in their fold, to lead them out of the current
depleting morass-when Pakistan faces yet another break up. Indeed, a
despondent nation-as in 1971– looks to a Bhutto to free them from the
stranglehold of the scavengers.

May Allah give you, long, prosperous and healthy life, strengthen your
dauntless courage, your unwavering commitment and keep you with us
always as the guiding light. Only a person of your vision, foresight and
leadership can get us out of the darkness shrouding our present onto
road to a prosperous future. Ameen.

With fondest regards
WSH

Received via e-mail: w.hasan@virgin.net

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