Today marks the 9th anniversary of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto by forces and political machinators who were fearful of the storm that she was gathering against them. Her death, though one that shocked and horrified the world at large, in retrospect seems more logical given that her opponents and detractors could not go toe to toe with her on the political battlefield; her achievements and capabilities put her in a league of her own and they knew it.
Benazir Bhutto was born on 21 June 1953, the eldest daughter of Pakistan People’s Party Founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Educated at some of the best schools in her hometown in Karachi, she was still very much brought up as a woman of the people by her family, who could see her brilliance and potential as a vital member of the family’s political dynasty. This can be seen by the fact that despite being primarily an English speaker as well as being fluent in Urdu, she was also fluent in Sindhi, using it in her interactions with her servants as well as other native Sindhi speakers.
Her efforts in school led her to gaining admission into arguably the two most prestigious universities in the world namely, Harvard University and the University of Oxford. At Harvard, where she studied comparative government, gaining a foothold in the science of politics by studying other democracies and administrative systems. Her time at Harvard as well as her subsequent achievements led her classmates to create the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Programme at her alma mater, which was aimed at training future leaders in Muslim countries who shared Benazir’s principles.
Her subsequent time at Oxford had a similarly superlative record. Not only did she shine in her studies on a wide breath of subjects which included philosophy, economics, politics, international law and democracy. She was also elected as president of the Oxford Union, due to her brilliant oratory skills, becoming the first Asian women to be chosen as the leader of the prestigious society.
These efforts were simply a precursor, an indicator of her future career as one of the most eminent, verbose, charismatic and astute politicians that Pakistan has ever had. This was made evident when she became Prime Minister for the first time in 1988, the first women to be elected head of a Muslim majority nation; an unprecedented achievement that she later repeated. Though her time in power was relatively short, due in part to the intrigues and plots of her opponents of whom only some were part of the legislative establishment, she nonetheless created and achieved a remarkable record both in her time in office and outside it as well. It were these triumphs, these successes in the face of immense adversity, that convinced her enemies that no obstacle could stop her from the goal she had set for herself and her party. Left with no choice when faced with a character against whom they paled in comparison, they chose the only way they could, to halt the force of nature that was Benazir Bhutto.