Pakistan in Mourning As Nusrat Bhutto is Buried

Larkana (Sindh)
Pakistan in Mourning As Nusrat Bhutto is Buried
Pakistan's former First Lady Nusrat Bhutto was today buried in the Bhutto family mausoleum here in Sindh province as the government declared a public holiday and flags flew at half-mast to mourn the death of the leader, best remembered as a champion of democracy.

Following funeral prayers held at Naudero House, the Bhuttos' ancestral home, Nusrat's body was taken to the mausoleum at Garhi Khuda Baksh in the family's traditional stronghold of Larkana.

The body was lowered into the grave by several ministers and Nusrat's grandson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the nominal chief of the Pakistan People's Party amidst moving scenes.

82-year-old Nusrat, the widow of former President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the mother of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, was laid to rest near the grave of her husband, who was hanged in 1979 during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.

The 'namaz-e-janaza' at Naudero House was attended by President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, federal ministers, senior leaders of several political parties and hundreds of PPP workers.

People were kept away from the funeral prayers and the burial for security reasons, and hundreds of security personnel were deployed in the area.

Nusrat died in Dubai yesterday after a protracted illness at the age of 82.

Her body – accompanied by her daughter Sanam Bhutto, her son-in-law, President Asif Ali Zardari, and his children – was flown to Pakistan in a special aircraft this afternoon.

Government offices, markets, schools and businesses remained closed across the country as a mark of respect to Nusrat and Prime Minister Gilani declared a 10-day period of national mourning.

The national flag will fly at half-mast during this period. The government today posthumously conferred the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civil award, and the title 'Madr-e-Jamhooriyat' (Mother of Democracy) on Nusrat.

The citation for the award said: "No tribute can do justice to Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the mother of democracy.

"We salute her courage, her enumerable sacrifices, her tenacity. What a great family, what a way to live and to die. ..The Bhutto narrative is beyond history and belongs to the realm of legends.

"The nation is once more united in their collective grief for a family whose sacrifices remain unparallel in our life."

Nusrat was elected twice to the parliament.

Following her husband's execution, she led the PPP until her daughter Benazir took over in the mid-1980s.

Following Benazir's assassination in 2007, her widower Asif Ali Zardari became president.

She had been living in Dubai since the time Benazir went into self-exile in the late 1990s.

Nusrat was suffering from cancer and Alzheimer's disease and was largely incapacitated.

The daughter of a wealthy Iranian businessman, Begum Nusrat was born in Esfahan, Iran, on March 23, 1929. Her family later moved to the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

She married Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1951, becoming his second wife.

PPP leaders said Nusrat was affected by the deaths of her two sons, Shahnawaz and Mir Murtaza. While, Shahnawaz died in mysterious circumstances in France in 1985, Murtaza was gunned down outside the family home in Karachi in 1996.

Nusrat was rarely seen in public over the past few years, including after Benazir's return to Pakistan from self-exile in late 2007.
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