Benazir heralded the attack on innocent children in Peshawar. While the conservative governments and military leaders clouded our vision Benazir was the only one who saw it coming and she warned the West as well as the East that the world will see hideous massacres in the name of religion. Bhutto wrote in her book,”The Daughter of the East,” that she feared an attack from a Jihadist named Osama Bin Laden. This was in 1990, ten good years before the horror that struck the Twin Towers.
Those Jihadists saw to her death and since Benazir, the terrorists have had their way. They have provoked sectarian conflicts, bombed mosques and churches, attempted to murder school girls and blown away schools. The message that they have brought to Pakistan is of a dogmatic Islam that discourages religious dialogue and is scared of school girls who can think for themselves.
The same extremism that poses the biggest threat to Pakistan now, killed Benazir Bhutto on December 27th, 2007. And though her body left us that day, her bullet-proof ideas remain amidst us, and these ideas are growing stronger and more steadfast.
Firstly, Benazir wanted us to see the terrorists for what they were and now her country is free of the deluded vision of Islam that the extremists were harbouring and spreading amongst the people. Her sacrifice and the sacrifice of a thousand Pakistanis from all age groups, religion, sects and castes have shown us the real face of our enemy and this is our first productive step in this war. We, now, know our enemy.
Secondly, Benazir proved an inspiration for the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. The young Malala Yousafzai wants to follow in her footsteps and bring her people to an enlightened Pakistan. She shares this dream with Benazir, like she shares Benazir’s valiance and her volition to stand dauntless and fearless against evil. Malala, like Benazir, is a symbol of hope and courage in the face of this blemished version of Islam and its followers. Above all, Malala and Benazir are beacons of education for the women of this nation, who need awakening so that they can play their part in the development of this country. They are a constant reminder of the strength of a woman; a woman who can stand up for her right to education, her right to liberty and her right to free-thinking in a male-dominated world. Malala and Benazir are the voices against extremism that we ought to listen to now.
Thirdly, Benazir stood for a modern and enlightened Islam. She advocated a religion of peace and harmony and she practiced it by attempting to reconcile with the West and all of Pakistan’s neighbours. And in the face of extremism she highlighted the message of peace, human rights and education for the youth of the nation. No doubt she was a threat to the extremists, she preached everything that went against their teachings and what she stood for will be the downfall of extremism. Education, harmony and peace will be the end of extremism.
Every year, since 2007, ends with chants and prayers for Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and at the end of each year we are reminded of the Pakistan that she dreamt of. Her dream was was rather simple; she stood for democracy, and she vehemently opposed violence and the corruption of youth in the name of religion. And because her dream is still alive, ZINDA HAI BIBI, ZINDA HAI!