Benazir Bhutto became thefirst female prime minister of Pakistan in 1988. She was killed by a suicidebomber in 2007.
Benazir Bhutto wasborn on June 21, 1953, in Karachi, Pakistan, the child of former premierZulfikar Ali Bhutto. She inherited leadership of the PPP after a military coupoverthrew her father's government and won election in 1988, becoming the firstfemale prime minister of a Muslim nation. In 2007, she returned to Pakistanafter an extended exile, but, tragically, was killed in a suicide attack.
Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, in Karachi, Pakistan,the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She went on to foundthe Pakistan People's Party and serve as the nation's prime minister (from 1971to 1977). After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued herhigher education in the United States. Bhutto attended Radcliffe College from1969 to 1973, and then enrolled at Harvard University, where she graduated witha Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative government. It was then onto theUnited Kingdom, where she studied at Oxford University from 1973 to 1977,completing a course in international law and diplomacy.
Leaderof the PPP
Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 1977, and was placed under housearrest after the military coup led by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq overthrew herfather's government. One year after Zia ul-Haq became president in 1978, theelder Bhutto was hanged after his conviction on charges of authorizing themurder of an opponent. She inherited her father's leadership of the PPP.
There was more family tragedy in 1980 when Bhutto's brotherShahnawaz was killed in his apartment on the Riviera in 1980. The familyinsisted he was poisoned, but no charges were brought. Another brother,Murtaza, died in 1996 (while his sister was in power) in a gun battle withpolice in Karachi.
She moved to England in 1984, becoming the joint leader in exileof the PPP, then returned to Pakistan on April 10, 1986, to launch a nationwidecampaign for open elections.
She married a wealthy landowner, Asif Ali Zardari, in Karachi onDecember 18, 1987. The couple had three children: son Bilawal and twodaughters, Bakhtawar and Aseefa.
Zia ul-Haq's dictatorship ended when he was killed in a planecrash in 1988. And Bhutto was elected prime minister barely three months aftergiving birth to her first child. She became the first ever female primeminister of a Muslim nation on December 1, 1988. Bhutto was defeated in the1990 election, and found herself in court defending herself against severalcharges of misconduct while in office. Bhutto continued to be a prominent focusof opposition discontent, and won a further election in 1993, but was replacedin 1996.
While in self-imposed exile in Britain and Dubai, she wasconvicted in 1999 of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison. Shecontinued to direct her party from abroad, being re-affirmed as PPP leader in2002.
Bhutto returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after PresidentMusharraf granted her amnesty on all corruption charges, opening the way forher return as well as a possible power-sharing agreement.
Tragically, Bhutto's homecoming rally after eight years in exilewas hit by a suicide attack, which killed 136 people. She only survived afterducking down at the moment of impact behind her armored vehicle. Bhutto said itwas Pakistan's "blackest day" when Musharraf imposed a state ofemergency on November 3, 2007, and threatened to bring her supporters on to thestreets in mass demonstrations. Bhutto was placed under house arrest soonafter, on November 9, and she called for Musharraf's resignation four dayslater. The state of emergency was lifted in December 2007.
Bhutto was killed when an assassin fired shots and then blewhimself up after an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.The attack also killed 28 others and wounded at least another 100. The attackerstruck just minutes after Bhutto addressed a rally of thousands of supportersin the garrison city of Rawalpindi, eight miles south of Islamabad. She diedafter hitting her head on part of her vehicle's sunroof—not as a result ofbullets or shrapnel, a spokesman for Pakistan's Interior Ministry said.President Musharraf said that he had asked a team of investigators fromBritain's Scotland Yard to assist in the investigation into Bhutto's killing.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid last respects to formerPakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 28, 2007, as she was buriedat her family's mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the southern province ofSindh. She was buried alongside her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan'sfirst popularly elected prime minister who was executed by hanging. Bhutto'shusband, Asif Ali Zardari, her three children and her sister, Sanam, attendedthe burial. Following Bhutto's death, Pakistani President Pervez Musharrafannounced three days of mourning.
The shooting and bombing attack on the charismatic former primeminister plunged Pakistan into turmoil. Pakistan is armed with nuclear weaponsand is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. Furious supporters rampagedthrough several cities, torching cars, trains and stores in violence that leftat least 23 dead. On January 2, 2008, Pakistan's election commission announcedthat parliamentary elections would be postponed until February 18—a delay ofsix weeks. Bhutto reportedly had been planning to give two visiting Americanlawmakers a 160-page report accusing the Musharraf government of taking stepsto rig the January 8 vote.
"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act bymurderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy,"President George W. Bush said from his ranch near Crawford, "Those whocommitted this crime must be brought to justice."
Pakistan's Interior Ministry also revealed that it had"irrefutable evidence" showing that al Qaeda was behind Bhutto'sassassination. Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema said the government had recorded an"intelligence intercept" in which "al Qaeda leader"Baitullah Mehsud "congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardlyact." Mehsud is regarded as the commander of pro-Taliban forces in thelawless Pakistani tribal region South Waziristan, where al-Qaida fighters arealso active. Mehsud has denied involvement.
The quest to identify and prosecute Bhutto's killers took aninteresting turn in 2013. Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf wasplaced under house arrest when he returned to the country that April. He hasbeen accused of being part of the assassination plot against Bhutto and chargedwith not providing Bhutto with adequate security.
Unfortunately, that May, the case suffered a serious setbackwhen its lead prosecutor was murdered. Chaudhry Zulfiqar, with the country'sFederal Investigation Agency, was gunned down in his car on his way to ahearing regarding Musharraf. No one claimed responsibility for the killing, butthe timing of the attack is believed to be political. Zulfiquar died just daysbefore the Pakistani general elections.