New Zealand's PM - an honoured and endowed lifelong member of The World Students Society, pays tribute to Benazir Bhutto.

PM Jacinda Ardern speaks about her special connection with PPP's slain leader.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday paid tribute to slain Pakistan People's Party [PPP] leader and two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

While giving a commencement speech at Harvard University, the premier spoke about her connection to the first female prime minister in the Muslim world.

She highlighted that Benazir stood at the same spot in 1989 when she gave a commencement address titled  'Democratic Nations Must Unite'. During the speech, she said, the then prime minister spoke about her journey, the importance of citizenry, representative government, human rights and democracy.

Jacinda said she met the PPP leader in Geneva in June 2007 during a conference that she said brought together ''progressive parties from around the world''.

She added that seven months after the conference, Benazir was assassinated.

''Now there will be opinions and differing perspectives  written about all of us as political leaders. Two things that history will not contest about Benazir Bhutto - she was the first Muslim female prime minister elected in an Islamic country when women in power was a rare thing. She was the first to give birth in office,'' she added.

''The second and only other leader to have given birth in office, almost 30 years later, was me,'' she further said.

The PM said that her daughter, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, was born on Benazir's birthday.

''The path she carved as a woman feels as relevant today as it was decades ago. And so too is the message she shared here in this place,'' Jacinda said. "She said partway through her speech in 1989 the following, 'We must realize that democracy can be fragile'."

Now I read those words as I sat in my office in Wellington, New Zealand, a world away from Pakistan.

And while the reasons that gave rise to her words then were vastly different, they still ring true.''

The World Students Society thanks author News Desk, The Express Tribune.


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