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27 Dec, 2008 08:34

Bhutto remembered one year on

Saturday marks one year since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. The former prime minister was killed in a suicide bomb attack after an election rally near the capital, Islamabad.

To her supporters, Bhutto's presence and guidance came to symbolise the quest for freedom and equality.

Benazir Bhutto’s last speech was so spirited and full of hope that, a year later, her death has still leaves many feeling empty.

The small Pakistani community in Moscow is marking the first anniversary of Bhutto's assassination with prayers and speeches. At a ceremony they praised her courage and vision, two qualities that according to Pakistani Ambassador Mohammad Khalid Khattak, cost Bhutto her life.

“Terrorists hate everyone, you don't have to do anything to be hated by them, if you disagree with them they hate you,” said Khattak.

A year after Bhutto's death, security still remains one of the most pressing issues in Pakistan. Metal detectors are a permanent fixture in the family mausoleum, as are the rose petals on Benazir’s tomb.

“We are missing our leader very much. There has been no one like our leader, Benazir Bhutto, neither in the past or present,” said one mourner.

A year after her death, Benazir Bhutto’s legacy remains no less controversial than her life: an agent of democratic change for some, an egocentric political heiress for others.

Some say that having withstood numerous exiles and corruption scandals, she eventually fell victim to her own intransigence.

“She was a very tough woman, someone who wouldn't play second fiddle to anyone. After the October assasinatioon attempt, in which more than 140 people died, even members of her own poliical circle accused her of putting her supporters in danger by speaking at open rallies. But Benazir said it was her country and she wouldn't be hiding,” said Pakistan expert Evgeny Pakhomov.

With Benazir’s husband now serving as president and her son being groomed for politics, the Bhutto dynasty lives on. However, the rise of terrorism in Pakistan and in neighbooring countries will continue to stalk a family already too familiar with death.