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NEW YORK: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto on Thursday. The New Zealand PM expressed good wishes for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and paid tribute to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.

Jacinda Ardern told Bilawal Bhutto that her daughter was also born on June 21 – the birthday of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.

On May 27, Jacinda Ardern heaped praise on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed during her graduation ceremony at Harvard University.

She said: “In June 1989, the prime minister of Pakistan stood on this spot and delivered the commencement address titled Democratic Nations Must Unite. She spoke about her journey, the importance of citizenry, representative government, human rights and democracy.”

She also shared her personal experience of meeting Benazir in Geneva in June 2007, saying it was a conference that drew together progressive parties from around the world and Benazir was one of them.

She continued: “Seven months later, she 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 were a rare thing. She was also the first to give birth in office. The second and only other leader to have given birth in office, almost 30 years later, was me.

“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. She said partway through her speech in 1989 the following: we must realise 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.”

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