Hundreds gather for Benazir Bhutto's death anniversary | world | Hindustan Times
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Hundreds gather for Benazir Bhutto's death anniversary

Hundreds of ruling PPP workers have gathered at Larkana in Sindh for the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in a mysterious gun and bomb attack a year ago.

world Updated: Dec 26, 2008 20:11 IST

Hundreds of ruling PPP workers have gathered at Larkana in Sindh for the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in a mysterious gun and bomb attack a year ago.

Bhutto's 20-year-old son Bilawal, who was named party chairman after her death, has also arrived to participate in the prayers to be held at her hometown of Larkana.

Benazir was laid to rest there alongside her two assassinated brothers - Mir Murtaza and Shahnawaz - and father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who ruled Pakistan from 1972-1977 before his government was overthrown by military dictator General Ziaul Haq and he aws executed by Ziaul Haq on murder charges.

Special prayers will be held in Larkana and almost each and every town and city of Pakistan for Bhutto, who is regarded a great leader and has been named 'Daughter of East' for her services to the country and region.

Though her own party is now in power, headed by her widower President Asif Ali Zardari, the government has not started any investigations into her murder on December 27, 2007.

When she returned to Pakistan in October last year, she often said she was always worried about her security.

She had publicly stated that she was receiving death threats by extremists and made several appeals to the then Pervez Musharraf government for safety but was not provided adequate security.

In a letter written to American journalist, she had stated that Musharraf should be held responsible if she is murdered.

Bhutto came back to Pakistan in October 2007 after almost nine years in self-exile in Dubai and Britain under a deal with military dictator General Pervez Musharraf forcing him to doff his military uniform and paving the way for democracy in the country.

Musharraf had to quit as army chief after he was forced to do so by international leaders under Bhutto's influence but she couldn't survive to see his unceremonious and humiliating ouster from the presidency, which he occupied by overthrowing the elected government of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

Bhutto, an Oxford graduate and the eldest of Zulfikar Bhutto's four children, entered politics in 1979 when her father was hanged by General Zia after a controversial decision by the Supreme Court in a murder case.

She left the country in 1978 while her father was in jail to return to an historic welcome in 1986 and challenged the then powerful dictator Zia who had the backing of the US and other western countries because of his contribution in the Afghan war against the Soviet forces.

It is said to be country's largest reception in Lahore where almost one million people from all over the country had thronged to the Punjab capital to welcome their leader that year.

A year later she married Asif Ali Zardari, now president of Pakistan and co-chairman of Bhutto's PPP, in Karachi that is known as the largest ever wedding reception where more than hundred thousand people were present to greet her.

Bhutto won the 1988 elections that were held two months after Zia's death in a mysterious plane crash and became Pakistan's first woman prime minister. She couldn't complete her term and was sacked in 1990 by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan after she apparently developed differences with the army.

Bhutto, known for her quick decisions without consulting any partymen, was quite an extrovert leader and would cheer up the crowds with her strongly worded slogans in favour of democracy and against dictatorship.

"Tum kitney Bhutto marogey, har ghar sey Bhutto nikley ga (how many Bhuttos will you kill, every house will produce a Bhutto), and "Go Musharraf go", were the two slogans which she chanted minutes before she was killed at Rawalpindi's Liaqat Bagh.

"She was a great leader and used to do whatever she thought was in the best interest of the country and masses," her political secretary Naheed Khan told IANS. Khan, who was in the jeep when Bhutto died apparently of bullet wounds, says, "Pakistan will never get such a great leader, at least not in our lives."

Bhutto again came to power in 1994 but again couldn't complete her tenure and was sacked by her own handpicked president Farooq Khan Leghari with whom she developed differences over power sharing.

In April 1999 she left the country when the then Nawaz Sharif government filed some criminal cases against her and Zardari. She returned to Pakistan in October last year.

President Zardari said she sacrificed her life for democratic culture, freedom of thought and expression, achievement of human rights and an equal society, setting a brilliant example not only for Pakistan but for the whole world.

"Bhutto gave her life to brighten the light of democracy and freedom and illuminate new ways for progress and prosperity of people and stability of the country," said her staunch party leader and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on the eve of her death anniversary.

First Published: Dec 26, 2008 20:05 IST