Sunday, December 27, 2009

Benazir Bhutto

Today, we have something different than Healthcare to write about. I know Anya really wanted to write this post, but unfortunately she has college applications to do, so I’ll try and do this great lady justice. We wanted to do a sort of tribute to Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister, because two years ago today she was assassinated in Pakistan.

Her history: Like I mentioned she was the first female Prime Minster of Pakistan and her party was the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a party her father, Zilfikar Ali Bhutto, founded in 1967. The PPP’s “creed” is, “Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people.” The intent of the PPP was to make Pakistan a true democracy and get it away from military dictatorships.

Her father’s government was overthrown by a military dictatorship headed by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who was Bhutto’s chief of the army. Benazir was put under house arrest during this time and her father was imprisoned and then executed on April 4, 1979 despite the urge for clemency in the international community.

After his death she was first put under house arrest, and also was imprisoned numerous times. She was finally allowed to leave the country under Zia’s orders in January 1984; she went to London. While in London she was able to raise awareness in the international community about Zia’s regime and she also became the leader of the PPP while in exile.

On November 16, 1988 the first open election in more than ten years was held and the PPP won a majority bloc of the seats in the National Assembly. On December 2 she became leader of a coalition government at the age of 35 (the youngest person to become PM).

In 1990 her government was charged with corruption (she was never tried) and was dismissed so she became the leader of the opposition party. In 1993 her party won again and she was made PM again and was able to continue on with her goals. Then in 1996 the current president, because of corruption charges, dissolved her government and the Supreme Court upheld this decision.

Bhutto left Pakistan after this and then came back in 2007 to prepare for the 2008 elections. The day she returned, October 18, 2007, there was an attempt to kill her, but she was not hurt. On December 27, 2007 she was assassinated coming home after a rally.

It seems so crazy that in some places people are still dying for democracy and peace. We really should, by now, have a better way of handling things. We fought for our freedom and other countries need to do the same, but sometimes it feels like democracy won’t take in some places. People need to be able to overthrow their government if it violates the constitution, etc. (something I learned in Gov.) or else nobody would have freedom and governments wouldn’t be restrained at all. We are lucky Benazir Bhutto and her father were champions for democracy in Pakistan. We need to look to these people and see what they’ve done and make them examples: fight for peace and democracy; that’s their message.

Tribute image by Anya

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