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Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto
 
 
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Profile
Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 (Karachi)-Dec 27, 2007(Rawalpindi)) was the first woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. The charismatic Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988, only to be deposed 20 months later by the country's military-supported president Ghulam Ishaq Khan who controversially used the Eighth Amendment to dissolve parliament and force an election. She was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later amid various corruption scandals by then president Farooq Leghari, who also used the Eighth Amendment discretionary powers.

Early Years
Benazir Bhutto was the eldest child of the deposed Pakistani premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, who was of Kurdish-Iranian origin. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a Sindhi and a key figure in Pakistan's Independence movement. Bhutto attended Lady Jennings Nursery School and then the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi. After two years of schooling at the Rawalpindi Presentation Convent, she was sent to the Jesus and Mary Convent at Murree. She passed her O-level examinations at the age of 15. In April 1969, she was admitted to Harvard University's Radcliffe College. In June 1973, Benazir graduated from Harvard with a degree in political science; during her time at college, she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She attended Oxford University in the autumn of 1973 and graduated with an MA degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. She was elected President of the prestigious Oxford Unio.

Struggle against martial law of General Zia-ul-Haq

After the overthrow of her father Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's government in a bloodless coup Benazir Bhutto spent the next eighteen months in and out of house arrest as she struggled to rally political support to force Zia to drop murder charges against her father. The military dictator ignored worldwide appeals for clemency and had Zulfikar Bhutto hanged in April 1979. Following the hanging of her father Bhutto was arrested repeatedly, however, following PPP's victory in the local elections Zia postponed the national elections indefinitely and moved Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto from Karachi to Larkana. This was seventh time Benazir had been arrested within two years of the military coup. Repeatedly put under house arrest, the regime finally imprisoned her under solitary confinement in a desert cell in Sindhi province during the summer of 1981. She described the conditions in her wall-less cage in her book "Daughter of Destiny":
"The summer heat turned my cell into an oven. My skin split and peeled, coming off my hands in sheets. Boils erupted on my face. My hair, which had always been thick, began to come out by the handful. Insects crept into the cell like invading armies. Grasshoppers, mosquitoes, stinging flies, bees and bugs came up through the cracks in the floor and through the open bars from the courtyard. Big black ants, cockroaches, seething clumps of little red ants and spiders. I tried pulling the sheet over my head at night to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got too hot to breathe."

After her six month imprisonment in Sukkur jail, she remained hospitalized for months after which she was shifted to Karachi Central Jail, where she remained imprisoned till 11 December 1981. She was then placed under house arrests in Larkana and Karachi eleven and fourteen months respectively.

Family
On 18 December 1987, she married Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. The couple had three children: Bilawal, Bakhtwar and Aseefa.

Bhutto was the eldest child of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi descent and Shia Muslim by faith, and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish descent, similarly Shia Muslim by faith. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who came to Larkana District in Sindh before the independence from his native town of Bhatto Kalan, in the Indian state of Haryana.

Prime minister Of Pakistan
She was elected co-chairwoman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) along with her mother, and when free elections were finally held in 1988, she herself became Prime Minister. At 35, she was one of the youngest chief executives in the world, and the first woman to serve as prime minister in an Islamic country.

Only two years into her first term, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Bhutto from office. She initiated an anti-corruption campaign, and in 1993 was re-elected as Prime Minister. While in office, she brought electricity to the countryside and built schools all over the country. She made hunger, housing and health care her top priorities, and looked forward to continuing to modernize Pakistan.

At the same time, Bhutto faced constant opposition from the Islamic fundamentalist movement. Her brother Mir Murtaza, who had been estranged from Benazir since their father's death, returned from abroad and leveled charges of corruption at Benazir's husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Mir Murtaza died when his bodyguard became involved in a gunfight with police in Karachi. The Pakistani public was shocked by this turn of events and PPP supporters were divided over the charges against Zardari.

In 1996 President Leghari of Pakistan dismissed Benazir Bhutto from office, alleging mismanagement, and dissolved the National Assembly. A Bhutto re-election bid failed in 1997, and the next elected government, headed by the more conservative Nawaz Sharif, was overthrown by the military. Bhutto's husband was imprisoned, and once again, she was forced to leave her homeland. For nine years, she and her children lived in exile in London, where she continued to advocate the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. In the autumn of 2007, in the face of death threats from radical Islamists, and the hostility of the government,

Returning Pakistan
Bhutto returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007, after reaching an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. She was assassinated on 27 December 2007, after departing a PPP rally in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, two weeks before the scheduled Pakistani general election of 2008 where she was a leading opposition candidate. The following year she was named one of seven winners of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.

Assassination
On 27 December 2007, Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally for the PPP at Liaquat National Bagh, where she had given a spirited address to party supporters in the run-up to the January 2008 parliamentary elections. After entering her bulletproof vehicle, Bhutto stood up through its sunroof to wave to the crowds. At this point, a gunman fired shots at her and subsequently explosives were detonated near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people. Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital. She was taken into surgery at 17:35 local time, and pronounced dead at 18:16.

Bhutto's body was flown to her hometown of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana District, Sindh, and was buried next to her father in the family mausoleum at a ceremony attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners.

Benazir Bhutto's books
Benazir Bhutto is the author of two books,
‘Foreign Policy in Perspective’ (1978)
and her autobiography,
 ‘Daughter of the East’ (1989).

Several collections of her speeches and works have been compiled, including
‘The Way Out’ (1988).
Three books about Benazir have been published in India:
 ‘Benazir’s Pakistan’ (1989);
‘The Trial of Benazir’ (1989);
and
‘Benazir Bhutto: Opportunities and Challenges’ (1989).

 
 
 
 
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