In April 1979, a 26-year-old Benazir Bhutto witnessed the beginning of a bloodied epoch, only to be destined to a fate similar to that of her father and her brothers’ years later. The Oxford University graduate, assumed command of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1980 following the hanging of her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the chairperson of PPP and elected prime minister of Pakistan. He was convicted of criminal charges and faced the death penalty one year after dictator Ziaul Haq overthrew Bhuttos elected government. Benazir Bhutto was the first elected female prime minister in the Muslim world, and until today, she is described as a woman of substance. Empowered and courageous, she stood graceful and dignified with her chin up despite witnessing a horrific ordeal, the death of her father and brothers. Nothing could bring this woman down, she had endured immense tragedy. After the hanging of her father in 1979, her brother Shahnawaz was murdered in his apartment in 1980. It is said that Shahnawaz was poisoned to death however; no charges had been brought forward. Another tragic atrocity occurred in 1996 whilst Benazir was in power. Her brother Murtaza was assassinated in a police encounter in Karachi. Pakistan is a country where women like Ayesha Gulalai are subjected to abuse for raising a voice against sexual harassment or where young women like Malala Yousafzai are shot in the face for availing an education, the nation where a woman such as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is welcomed with a string of online abuse and threats after returning to Pakistan being the only Pakistani to receive two Oscars for raising awareness on acid attacks and honour killings. In such a country, Benazir stood as a powerful woman, firm and brave, speaking up for what she believed in, she was the symbol of resilience and defiance, every time she stood on stage she shattered the stereotype of a Muslim woman, her speeches were so passionate you could almost romantasise with her presence. She was a symbol of victory for Muslim women around the world. She posed a threat to the military and the Islamists of Pakistan and it is unfortunate that this very triumphant courageous persona later became the reason behind her tragic murder. Empowered and courageous, she stood graceful and dignified with her chin up despite witnessing a ‘horrific’ ordeal — deaths of her father and brothers. Nothing could bring this woman down The men were so intimidated by her presence that one General is said to have refused to salute Benazir because she was a female prime minister. She won her first election in 1988 soon after she gave birth but her tenure came to a halt in 1990 and was instead found defending herself in court against charges of misconduct. She won another election in 1993 before once again having her tenure terminated on grounds of corruption in 1996. She fled to Britain and remained there in self-imposed exile. In 1999, she was convicted and was sentenced to three years in prison. She returned to Pakistan in 2007. Benazir made a triumphed return to Pakistan in October 2007. She aimed to regain her seat after spending eight years in exile. She describes her return as emotional, and states in her book that this was the first time she had cried in public. Tears are a symbol of weakness, Benazir stated and didn’t want her opposition to believe that she was weak. She tried to hold back her tears but upon seeing her homeland after eight years, the tears were uncontrollable. However, her homecoming rally was hit by suicide attack, which killed over a 100 people. Benazir survived the attack by the skin of her teeth. She backed down behind her bulletproof vehicle and survived. Unfortunately, the next attempt to take her life did not go in her favour. December 27, 2007 was a gloomy day in Pakistan’s history. Benazir had just finished her homecoming rally and was standing on her car’s sunroof waving to her diehard supporters in Rawalpindi when an assassin opened fire followed by a suicide blast. It is said that Benazir’s cause of death was not in fact the bomb or the gunshot, but she had hit her head in a metal piece of the sunroof. Ten years later, the anti terrorism court of Pakistan located in Rawalpindi finally came to a verdict declaring General Pervez Musharraf a fugitive, two police officers party to the crime have been sentenced to 17 years in jail for “mishandling the crime scene” whilst five alleged Taliban militants have been acquitted. Musharraf fled Pakistan in 2016 in self-proclaimed exile. The verdict has angered PPP supporters and her son Bilawal Bhutto stated that the verdict is “disappointing” and “unacceptable”. They will explore other legal options. The writer is a law graduate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 8th 2017.