Enlightenment of Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian countries have recently sparked conflict with Western nations due to their traditional law codes and unethical treatment towards citizens. In the west, countries value freedom and unalienable rights, while in Southeast Asian countries, such as Pakistan, the leaders generally rule according to their strict religious law codes. Ever since Pakistan separated from India in 1947, its people have suffered under tyrannical and extremist leaders. As devout Muslims, the majority of Pakistani people are forced to follow Islamic traditional laws, such as purdah, which take away from their unalienable rights. Women and children are especially negatively affected by these traditional law codes, and until recently no Pakistani leader had tried to reform the Pakistani government. Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of renowned politician, and she sought to reform Pakistan’s government in order to improve the lives of her citizens. She was elected twice as Prime Minister of Pakistan, and she served for a total of four years as Pakistan’s leader (Wynbrandt, James). Although failing to achieve most of her goals as Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto sought to bring western ideas to southwest Asia by restoring human rights and guiding the Pakistani government towards democracy.
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Although Bhutto’s intentions as Prime Minister were ethical and fair, she was unable to effectively implement her target plans due to her short time in office. Bhutto had chosen a near impossible task by trying to reform Pakistan because many rivaling politicians and citizens were afraid of change. In order to avoid change and remove Bhutto from office, Bhutto’s rival politicians accused her of many fallacious crimes. Bhutto spent her whole life working hard and trying to follow in the footsteps of her father, and in 1988 Bhutto had finally won the elections for Prime Minister. As the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan, she spoke out her plans to steer the country towards western ideals. Twenty months later, Bhutto’s rival politician named President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who was now backed by the Pakistani military, did not want these types of changes for Pakistan. In result, Khan accused Bhutto of abuse of power, nepotism, and economic mismanagement, and Bhutto was kicked from office (Wynbrandt, James). In her first term as Prime Minister she had promised her people many changes, but due to her short time in office she could not follow through with the promises. Bhutto was viewed as a “bad Muslim” by her fellow politicians and she was banned from politics for the next two years. Despite this, she won the elections of 1993 and she once again tried to implement her ambitious ideas. During her second term in office, she again voiced out many of her western driven ideals. These included striving for democracy and improving human rights; but two major problems faced Bhutto in her second term. First, Bhutto’s brother had turned on her and a few months later he had been assassinated. Bhutto claimed that her political enemies had arranged for the shooting so they could blame her, but those who were opposed to Bhutto claimed she and her husband were behind the killing. Second, Bhutto and her husband were accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the Pakistani government. Although Bhutto was not proven guilty for either of these charges, she was booted from office once again for corruption (Wynbrandt, James). She had failed for the second time to effectively implant her promises for the Pakistani citizens. After Bhutto’s two failed attempts at bringing democracy to Pakistan, she left the country and resided in England. The people of Pakistan again were forced to live under an extremist leader. Not only had Bhutto failed to complete her short term goals, but today in Pakistan there is conflict which dates back to her terms in office. Her political party, the Pakistan’s People Party, still exists in Pakistan and it is a strong supporter of democracy. Taliban is a terrorist organization in Pakistan that extreme dislikes democracy, so great conflict has arisen between these two extremely contradicting ideologies. Pakistan is still considered a politically unstable nation mainly due to the Taliban conflict, which can be partly blamed on Bhutto for introducing democracy (Groff, Claire Price). Bhutto failed two times to implement her goals as Prime Minister and she introduced a conflict which still goes on today, but her intentions are what made her a heroine.
Benazir Bhutto sought to restore and protect human rights for the Pakistani people, which would serve as a huge step in modernizing Pakistan. During her time as Prime Minister, Bhutto stressed the point that she wanted to eliminate human rights violations against Pakistani citizens and improve their quality of life. Before she was Prime Minister, women in Pakistan possessed miniscule rights. They were not allowed to go to school, they had to cover they faces with clothes, and they were generally not allowed to be seen in public. This forced women in Pakistan to live very boring and meaningless lives. As a member of the Pakistan’s People Party, Bhutto revised her policies in order to give more rights to women. Her policy on women rights stated, “The PPP Parliamentarians pledges to promote universal female literacy and protection of the child to honor our women and our future generations” (Benazirbhutto.org). Bhutto pledged to give women the rights to literacy and protection. As a woman, Bhutto had experienced the awful crimes done against women and their restrictions in the Pakistani society. She sought to eradicate the traditional Pakistani laws which prevented women from possessing unalienable rights. This would serve as a huge step for Pakistan considering modern countries of the world today value women and men equally. Another major problem that was present prior to Bhutto’s reign was the discrimination of minorities. Since Pakistan is full of devout Muslims, followers of other religions were outlawed. Bhutto’s policy for human rights stated, “The PPP Parliamentarians pledges to protect the minorities. It pledges to protect the weak from the strong. It pledges to undo laws that are discriminatory against minorities. It calls upon the people of Pakistan to give it a constitutional majority to build a society where the weak and underprivileged are freed from archaic state laws” (The Independent, London). Bhutto sought to do everything necessary in order to give all citizens of Pakistan equal rights and eliminate ethnic discrimination in her country. Even though racism is hard to eliminate completely in any nation, by recognizing it and speaking out against it Bhutto was improving the human rights of her nation. Another action taken by Bhutto to improve human rights of her nation was lifting the restrictions against the press. Prior to her reign, Pakistani citizens did not have the freedom of press, which made it hard for them to trust the media. Under the extremist leaders, the government manipulated the news and they only allowed certain books and newspapers to be published (Kuhlman, Erica Ann). Lifting the ban on freedom of press significantly modernized Pakistan because now people could freely voice their opinions and truly believe the media. Also, the material which people read was no longer manipulated by the government so people learned the truth about their own country and the whole world. By developing the human rights of the Pakistani people, Bhutto was introducing her people to western ideals and improving there lives.
In an attempt to modernize the government of Pakistan, Bhutto tried to guide her country towards democracy. During the end of her second term in office, Bhutto was interviewed about her plans on the future of her political career. She responded, “There are other issues like lifting the military imposed ban on a twice elected prime minister contesting election for a third time for Prime Minister, appointment of Governors, members of the Judiciary and Election Commission. The Charter of Democracy spells out the changes needed” (Benazirbhutto.org). She not only wanted to become the Prime Minister for a third semester, but she also strove to change the political system in order to make it similar to a democracy. By appointing governors, Bhutto would promote local governments to rule under the umbrella of the national government. The U.S. has a similar government in which state-run governments run the states while the national government rules over the whole nation. Bhutto would also better the Judiciary branch of Pakistan’s government by appointing more Judiciary members. She also would promote democracy by appointing more people to the election commission. With a stable election commission, the elections for president would not be manipulated and the winner of the election would truly be chosen by the people. Another point that Bhutto stressed in her policies was improving the law code in Pakistan (Benazirbhutto.org). Throughout the many years of oppressive rule, thousands of men and women were jailed without the chance to a fair trial. In order to prevent this from occurring in the future, Bhutto set up a new court system in which all men and women accused of breaking the law would be able to have a fair trial. She also freed hundreds of people that had been jailed without trial to exhibit her devotion to freedom and democracy. Bhutto knew that implanting democracy in a nation that possessed anti-democratic people would be tough task. One of her rivals, the Taliban, was a Muslim extremist group that possessed ideals opposite of democracy. She states in her peace policy, “An earlier military dictator used Afghanistan ‘s critical importance to the world community to perpetuate his own dictatorship. Now another military dictator [the Taliban] is attempting to use Afghanistan to perpetuate itself at the cost of the fundamental and human rights, including economic rights, of the people of the Federation.” The Taliban supported extremist rulers, oppressive rule, and Muslim law code. In order to fully implement her democratic goals, Bhutto condemned the Taliban and all of its followers from Pakistan (Benazirbhutto.org). By doing this, she would ensure political stability and convince more people to become supporters of democracy. Sadly, Bhutto never completed her goals due to her assassination in 2008, but her attempts to democratize Pakistan’s governments exhibited her passion to enhance Pakistan as a country.
Benazir Bhutto sought to transform Pakistan from a traditional Islamic country into a westernized nation. She wanted to improve the human rights of her nation and democratize her country’s government, but due to her little time in office she was unable to effectively implement either of these goals. Although Bhutto never truly achieved all of her goals, her attempts served as an initial step for Pakistan towards the ideal direction. Her party, the Pakistan’s People Party, is still a forerunner in Pakistani politics. Her party has carried on her ideas and hopefully in the future, with the help of Western powers, Pakistan will become a democratic nation that supports human rights. Benazir Bhutto will always be remembered as a heroine that attempted to bring human rights and democracy to Pakistan so she could improve the lives of her citizens.
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