Bhutto, Benazir

Bhutto, Benazir
born June 21, 1953, Karachi, Pak.

Pakistani politician, the first woman leader of a Muslim nation in modern history.

After receiving an education at Harvard and Oxford, she led the political opposition to Pres. Zia-ul-Haq after the execution of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979. She subsequently endured frequent house arrest (1979–84) and was exiled (1984–86). When Zia died in a plane crash in 1988, she became prime minister of a coalition government. She was unable to do much to combat Pakistan's widespread poverty, governmental corruption, and increasing crime, and her government was dismissed in 1990 on charges of corruption and other malfeasance. A second stint as prime minister (1993–96) ended similarly. In 1999 she was convicted of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

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▪ 2008

      Pakistani politician

born June 21, 1953, Karachi, Pak.

died Dec. 27, 2007, Rawalpindi, Pak.
as the prime minister of Pakistan (1988–90 and 1993–96), was the first woman leader of a Muslim country in modern times. Although she was admired by many as a progressive, pro-Western politician, her two administrations were both dismissed under accusations of corruption and economic mismanagement. Bhutto, the daughter of Pakistani leader (1971–77) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was educated at Harvard University (B.A., 1973) and the University of Oxford (B.A., 1977). After her father's execution (1979), she became the titular head of his opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP). She endured frequent house arrest between 1979 and 1984 and lived in exile from 1984 until Pres. Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq lifted martial law in 1986. In the National Assembly elections held after Zia's death (1988), the PPP won the largest bloc of seats, and Bhutto was sworn in on Dec. 1, 1988, at the head of a coalition government. Dismissed in August 1990, she and the PPP lost the subsequent elections. In the 1993 election, however, the party won a plurality of votes, and Bhutto became head of another coalition. After her dismissal in November 1996, she suffered a decisive loss in the 1997 elections. In 1999 Bhutto and her husband, businessman and senator Asif Ali Zardari (who was jailed from 1996 to 2004 on other charges), were both convicted of corruption, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court in 2001 because there was evidence of governmental interference. Bhutto was not permitted to stand for election in 2002, though a PPP spin-off party earned a strong vote. Amid unresolved discussions of a power-sharing deal with Bhutto, Pres. Pervez Musharraf finally granted her amnesty for the earlier corruption charges. In October 2007 Bhutto returned to Karachi from Dubai after eight years of self-imposed exile. She was assassinated while campaigning for upcoming national elections.

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▪ prime minister of Pakistan
born June 21, 1953, Karachi, Pak.
died Dec. 27, 2007, Rawalpindi
 Pakistani politician who became the first woman leader of a Muslim nation in modern history. She served two terms as prime minister of Pakistan, in 1988–90 and in 1993–96.

      Bhutto was the daughter of the politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali), who was the leader of Pakistan from 1971 until 1977. She was educated at Harvard University (B.A., 1973) and subsequently studied philosophy, political science, and economics at the University of Oxford (B.A., 1977).

      After her father's execution in 1979 during the rule of the military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq (Zia-ul-Haq, Mohammad), Bhutto became the titular head of her father's party, the Pakistan People's Party (Pakistan) (PPP), and endured frequent house arrest from 1979 to 1984. In exile from 1984 to 1986, she returned to Pakistan after the lifting of martial law and soon became the foremost figure in the political opposition to Zia. President Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash, leaving a power vacuum at the centre of Pakistani politics. In the ensuing elections, Bhutto's PPP won the single largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly. She became prime minister on Dec. 1, 1988, heading a coalition government.

      Bhutto was unable to do much to combat Pakistan's widespread poverty, governmental corruption, and increasing crime. In August 1990 the president of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, dismissed her government on charges of corruption and other malfeasance and called for new elections. Bhutto's PPP suffered a defeat in the national elections of October 1990; thereafter she led the parliamentary opposition against her successor, Nawaz Sharif (Sharif, Nawaz).

      In elections held in October 1993 the PPP won a plurality of votes, and Bhutto again became head of a coalition government. Under renewed allegations of corruption, economic mismanagement, and a decline of law and order, her government was dismissed in November 1996 by Pres. Farooq Leghari.

      Voter turnout was low in the 1997 elections, in which Bhutto's PPP suffered a decisive loss to Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party. With British and Swiss cooperation, Sharif's administration continued to pursue the corruption charges against Bhutto. In 1999 Bhutto and her husband, the controversial businessman and senator Asif Ali Zardari (Zardari, Asif Ali)—jailed since 1996 on a variety of additional charges—were both convicted of corruption by a Lahore court, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court in 2001 because of evidence of governmental interference. Bhutto did not achieve political accommodation with Gen. Pervez Musharraf (Musharraf, Pervez)'s seizure of power in a 1999 coup d'état; her demands that the charges against her and her husband be dropped were denied, undercutting negotiations with the Musharraf government regarding a return to the country from her self-imposed exile. Facing standing arrest warrants should she return to Pakistan, Bhutto remained in exile in London and Dubai from the late 1990s.

      Because of Musharraf's 2002 decree banning prime ministers from serving a third term, Bhutto was not permitted to stand for elections that same year. In addition, legislation in 2000 that prohibited a court-convicted individual from holding party office hindered her party, as Bhutto's unanimously elected leadership would have excluded the PPP from participating in elections. In response to these obstacles, the PPP split, registering a new, legally distinct branch called the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP). Legally separate and free from the restrictions brought upon the PPP by Bhutto's leadership, the PPPP participated in the 2002 elections, in which it proceeded to earn a strong vote. However, Bhutto's terms for cooperation with the military government—that all charges against her and against her husband be withdrawn—continued to be denied. In 2004 Bhutto's husband was released from prison on bail and joined Bhutto in exile. Just before the 2007 elections, talk began to circulate of Bhutto's return to Pakistan.

      Shortly before Musharraf's reelection to the presidency, amid unresolved discussions of a power-sharing deal between Bhutto and Musharraf's military regime, he finally granted Bhutto a long-sought amnesty for the corruption charges brought against her by the Sharif administration. The Supreme Court challenged Musharraf's right to grant the amnesty, however, criticizing it as unconstitutional; nevertheless, in October 2007 Bhutto returned to Karachi from Dubai after eight years of self-imposed exile. Celebrations marking her return were marred by a suicide attack on her motorcade, in which numerous supporters were killed. Bhutto was assassinated in December in a similar attack while campaigning for upcoming parliamentary elections.

      Bhutto's autobiography, Daughter of the East, was published in 1988 (also published as Daughter of Destiny, 1989); she also wrote Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, which was published posthumously in 2008.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Bhutto,Benazir — Bhut·to (bo͞oʹtō), Benazir. Born 1953. Pakistani politician who served as prime minister (1988 1990 and 1993 1996). * * * …   Universalium

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