My father was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. My grandfather had been in politics, too; however, my own inclination was for a job other than politics. I wanted to be a diplomat, perhaps do some journalism – certainly not politics.
Military hardliners called me a ‘security threat’ for promoting peace in South Asia and for supporting a broad-based government in Afghanistan.
As a woman leader, I thought I brought a different kind of leadership. I was interested in women’s issues, in bringing down the population growth rate… as a woman, I entered politics with an additional dimension – that of a mother.
In 1988, when democracy was restored, the military establishment was still very powerful. The extremist groups were still there. And when the aid and assistance to Pakistan was cut, we had to adopt harsh economic policies. So in a way, it showed that democracy doesn’t pay, and the military was able to reassert itself.
I believe that democracies do not go to war; that’s the lesson of history, and I think that a democratic Pakistan is the world community’s best guarantee of stability in Asia.
Right now, they feel they have lost their voice, and their miseries have increased since my departure.
General Musharraf needs my participation to give credibility to the electoral process, as well as to respect the fundamental right of all those who wish to vote for me.
Whatever my aims and agendas were, I never asked for power.
All through the years of the Soviet empire, its Politburo held ‘elections.’ Of course, calling something an election and actually having it be an election are different things.
I found that a whole series of people opposed me simply on the grounds that I was a woman. The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world and the Muslim umar by voting for a woman, that a woman had usurped a man’s place in the Islamic society.