Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto (Sindhi: بينظير ڀُٽو; Urdu pronunciation: [beːnəˈziːr ˈbʱʊʈ.ʈoː]; 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who served as the 11th and 13th prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority country, and the first elected head of government to give birth while in office.[1] Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the early 1980s until her assassination in 2007.

Benazir Bhutto
بينظير ڀٽو
Bhutto in 1994
11th and 13th Prime Minister of Pakistan
In office
18 October 1993  5 November 1996
PresidentWasim Sajjad (acting)
Farooq Leghari
Preceded byMoeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi (acting)
Succeeded byMalik Meraj Khalid (acting)
In office
2 December 1988  6 August 1990
PresidentGhulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded byMuhammad Khan Junejo
Succeeded byGhulam Mustafa Jatoi (acting)
Leader of the Opposition
In office
17 February 1997  12 October 1999
Preceded byNawaz Sharif
Succeeded byFazl-ur-Rehman
In office
6 November 1990  18 April 1993
Preceded byKhan Abdul Wali Khan
Succeeded byNawaz Sharif
Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party
In office
12 November 1982  27 December 2007
Preceded byNusrat Bhutto
Succeeded byAsif Ali Zardari
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Personal details
Born(1953-06-21)21 June 1953
Karachi, Federal Capital Territory, Pakistan
Died27 December 2007(2007-12-27) (aged 54)
Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placeBhutto family mausoleum
Political partyPakistan Peoples Party
(m. 1987)
ParentsZulfikar Ali Bhutto
Nusrat Bhutto

Of mixed Sindhi and Kurdish parentage, Bhutto was born in Karachi to a politically important, wealthy aristocratic family. She studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union. Her father, the PPP leader Zulfikar Bhutto, was elected Prime Minister on a socialist platform in 1973. She returned to Pakistan in 1977, shortly before her father was ousted in a military coup and executed. Bhutto and her mother Nusrat took control of the PPP and led the country's Movement for the Restoration of Democracy; Bhutto was repeatedly imprisoned by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's military government and then self-exiled to Britain in 1984. She returned in 1986 and—influenced by Thatcherite economics—transformed the PPP's platform from a socialist to a liberal one, before leading it to victory in the 1988 election. As Prime Minister, her attempts at reform were stifled by conservative and Islamist forces, including President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the powerful military. Her administration was accused of corruption and nepotism and dismissed by Khan in 1990. Intelligence services rigged that year's election to ensure a victory for the conservative Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), at which Bhutto became Leader of the Opposition.

After the IJI government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also dismissed on corruption charges, Bhutto led the PPP to victory in the 1993 elections. Her second term oversaw economic privatisation and attempts to advance women's rights. Her government was damaged by several controversies, including the assassination of her brother Murtaza, a failed 1995 coup d'état, and a further bribery scandal involving her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari; in response to the scandal and Murtaza's death, President Farooq Leghari dismissed her government. The PPP lost the 1997 election and in 1998 she went into self-exile, living between Dubai and London for the next decade. A widening corruption inquiry culminated in a 2003 conviction in a Swiss court. Following United States–brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections; her platform emphasised civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence. After a political rally in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated. The Salafi jihadi group al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, although the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban and rogue elements of the intelligence services was widely suspected. She was buried at her family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh.

Bhutto was a controversial figure who remains divisive to this day. She was often criticised as being politically inexperienced, was accused of being corrupt, and faced much opposition from Pakistan's Islamist lobby for her secularist and modernizing agenda. In the early years of her career she was nevertheless domestically popular and also attracted support from Western nations, for whom she was a champion of democracy. Posthumously, she came to be regarded as an icon for women's rights due to her political success in a male-dominated society.