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Biography of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto

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benazir_01.jpg Former Prime Minister and Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953. She became Prime Minister of Pakistan twice in 1988 and then in 1993.

She was sworn in for the first time in 1988 but removed from office 20 months later under orders of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 Bhutto was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari.

Self Exiled
Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998, where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with General Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn.

She was the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi extraction, and Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish extraction. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto who came to Larkana Sindh before partition from his native town of Bhatto Kalan which was situated in the Indian state of Haryana.
Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 during a suicide bombing attack on an election rally in Rawalpindi that also killed 15 more.

Bhutto attended the 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 examination at the age of 15. She then went on to complete her A-Levels from the Karachi Grammar School. After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the United States. From 1969 to 1973 she attended Radcliffe College, and then Harvard University, where she obtained a B.A. degree in comparative government.The next phase of her education took place in the United Kingdom. Between 1973 and 1977 Bhutto studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She completed a course in International Law and Diplomacy while at Oxford. In December 1976 she was elected president of the Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head the prestigious debating society.

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

Sacrifices of her Family
Benazir Bhutto’s father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was dismissed as Prime Minister in 1975, on charges similar to those Benazir Bhutto would later face. Later, in a 1977 trial on charges of conspiracy to murder the father of dissident politician Ahmed Raza Kasuri, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death. In 1980, Benazir Bhutto’s brother Shahnawaz was killed under suspicious circumstances, in France. The killing of another of her brothers, Mir Murtaza, in 1996, contributed to destabilizing her second term as Prime Minister.

Political Career
Having been allowed in 1984 to return to the United Kingdom, Ms Bhutto became a leader in exile of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), though she was unable to make her political presence felt in Pakistan until after the death of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. She had succeeded her mother as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party and the pro-democracy opposition to the Zia-ul-Haq regime.

First Premiership
On 16 November 1988, in the first open election in more than a decade, Benazir’s PPP won the largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly. Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister of a coalition government on December 2, becoming at age 35 the youngest person — and the first woman — to head the government of a Muslim-majority state in modern times.

The Fifty Most Beautiful People: People Magazine
That same year, People Magazine included Ms. Bhutto in its list of The Fifty Most Beautiful People. In 1989, she was awarded the Prize for Freedom by the Liberal International.

Allegations against BB
Bhutto’s government was dismissed in 1990 following charges of corruption, for which she never was tried. PML (N) Chief Nawaz Sharif subsequently came to power. Bhutto was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later amid various corruption scandals by then president Farooq Leghari, who used the Eighth Amendment discretionary powers to dissolve the government. The Supreme Court also upheld President Leghari’s dismissal by a 6-1 ruling. In 2006, Interpol issued a request for her arrest and that of her husband.

Leader of Opposition
After being dismissed by the then-president of Pakistan on charges of corruption her party lost the October elections. She served as leader of the opposition while Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the next three years. Elections were held again in October 1993 and her PPP coalition was victorious, returning Bhutto to office. In 1996 her government was once again dismissed on corruption charges.

International Community about her Charges
French, Polish, Spanish and Swiss documents have fueled the charges of corruption against Bhutto and her husband. Bhutto and her husband faced a number of legal proceedings, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in prison on similar corruption charges. Zardari, released from jail in 2004, has suggested that his time in prison involved torture; human rights groups have supported his claim that his rights were violated. Bhutto maintains that the charges leveled against her and her husband are purely political.

Second Premiership
The Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured the highest number of votes (28.42%) and 80 seats (23.16%) in the national assembly in the October 2002 general elections.

Musharraf’s amendment disqualified her for third tenure
In 2002, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf amended Pakistan’s constitution to ban prime ministers from serving more than two terms. This disqualifies Bhutto from ever holding the office again. This move was widely considered to be a direct attack on former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.

Member of Minhaj ul Quran International
On August 3, 2003, Bhutto became a member of Minhaj ul Quran International (An international Muslim educational and welfare organization).

A great Mother
Since September 2004, Bhutto lived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she cared for her children and her mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, traveling to give lectures and keeping in touch with the Pakistan Peoples Party’s supporters. She and her three children were reunited with her husband and their father in December 2004 after more than five years.

International Media Presence
On January 27, 2007 she was invited by the United States to speak to President Bush and congressional and State Department officials. Bhutto appeared as a panelist on the BBC TV programme Question Time in the UK in March 2007. She has also appeared on BBC current affairs programme Newsnight on several occasions.

Decided to Return to Pakistan
Bhutto had declared her intention to return to Pakistan within 2007, which she did, in spite of Musharraf’s statements of May 2007 about not allowing her to return ahead of the country’s general election, due early 2008. It was speculated that she may be offered the office of Prime Minister again.

Role in ending Military Rule
In July 2007, some of Bhutto’s frozen funds were released. On October 2, 2007, Pervez Musharraf named Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, as vice chief of the army. Meanwhile, Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated that officials agreed to grant Benazir Bhutto amnesty versus pending corruption charges. She has emphasized the smooth transition and return to civilian rule and has asked Pervez Musharaf to shed uniform.

National Reconciliation Ordinance
On October 5, 2007 Musharraf signed the National Reconciliation Ordinance, giving amnesty to Bhutto and other political leaders—except exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif—in all court cases against them, including all corruption charges. The Ordinance came a day before Musharraf faced the crucial presidential poll. Both Bhutto’s opposition party, the PPP, and the ruling PMLQ, were involved in negotiations beforehand about the deal. In return, Bhutto and the PPP agreed not to boycott the Presidential election.

Return to Pakistan
After eight years in exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto returned to Karachi on October 18, 2007 to prepare for the 2008 national elections. En route a rally in Karachi on the same day, two explosions occurred shortly after Bhutto had landed and left Jinnah International Airport. She was not injured but the explosions, later found to be a suicide-bomb attack, killed 136 people and injured at least 450. The dead included at least 50 of the security guards from her Pakistan Peoples Party who had formed a human chain around her truck to keep potential bombers away, as well as 6 police officers. A number of senior officials were injured. Bhutto was escorted unharmed from the scene.

Threatening Calls from Al-Qaida
A few days later, Bhutto’s lawyer Senator Farooq H. Naik said he received a letter threatening to kill his client. The letter also claims to have links with al-Qaeda and followers of Usama bin Laden.

House Arrest on Imposition of Emergency
On November 8, 2007, Bhutto was placed under house arrest just a few hours before she was due to lead and address a rally against the state of emergency. She made some attempts to come out of house arrest but police stopped her. The following day, the Pakistani government announced that Bhutto’s arrest warrant had been withdrawn and that she would be free to travel and to appear at public rallies.

Nomination Papers for January’s Parliamentary elections
On November 24, 2007, Benazir filed her nominations papers for January’s Parliamentary elections. She filed papers in the Larkana constituency for two regular seats.

possible discussion of boycotting Election 2008
On December 4, 2007, in a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ms Bhutto meet to discuss a possible boycott for the elections. They said that a committee would be set up to reveal their demands, if they were to take part in the elections.

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
On Thursday, December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by being shot in the neck during a suicide bomber’s attack as she was leaving a political rally in Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi. The explosion went off just after Ms. Bhutto left the rally in Rawalpindi, minutes after her speech to thousands of people.-SANA

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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