To understand the connection that millions of people – and not just the supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party – feel with Nusrat Bhutto, one must understand how her grace under pressure and in the face of overwhelming tragedy inspired countless others with her fortitude.
Hers was a human story that transcended her class or her position in the elite stratosphere of politics. And yet, having lived a life of comfort and luxury for most of her early life, she was also never accused of being aloof from the trials and sufferings of the ordinary workers of the party she led after her husband’s incarceration by the military. She had the ‘touch’ that made her more than just the wife of a wrongly-hanged leader. It could be argued that her real character and mettle only emerged when she was faced with the most demanding test of her private and public life. That she never wavered in her convictions is what endeared her to those millions who needed a figurehead symbol in the fight against the most brutal tyranny Pakistan has ever endured.
At the same time, one must also acknowledge her symbolism, for those who mourn today, of a bygone era, before religious fanaticism and guns and venal corruption came to define this country’s politics. When she stood, with blood streaming down her face from wounds inflicted by the sticks of General Zia’s goons, she stood with a defiant moral authority that needed no certification from the media, maulvis or armed security guards.
Excerpts from Cafe Pyala (here)