Benazir Bhutto – The First Woman to Head an Islamic State


Benazir Bhutto

(21 June 1953, Karachi, Dominion of Pakistan- 27 December 2007 Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan) (aged 54)
Nationality: Pakistan
Category: Leaders
Occupation: Politicians
Unique distinction: The first woman in modern times to head the government of an Islamic state.
Gender: Female

Quotes: 1. Democracy needs support, and the best support for democracy comes from other democracies. 2. A people inspired by democracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism. 3. I find that whenever I am in power, or my father was in power, somehow good things happen. The economy picks up, we have good rains, water comes, people have crops. I think the reason this happens is that we want to give love and we receive love. 4. While living in America when I attended Harvard in the early 1970s, I saw for myself the awesome, almost miraculous, power of a people to change policy through democratic means. 5. To make peace, one must be an uncompromising leader. To make peace, one must also embody compromise. 6. Leadership is a commitment to an idea, to a dream, and to a vision of what can be. And my dream is for my land and my people to cease fighting and allow our children to reach their full potential regardless of sex, status, or belief.

Achievements and contributions:

Social and professional position: Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani political leader, the first woman in modern times to head the government of an Islamic state.
The main contribution to (what is known): She was a chair the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan (19-Oct-1993 to 5-Nov-1996), (9-Dec-1988 to 6-Aug-1990).
Contributions:  During her work as head of government Bhutto’s accomplishments were in initiatives for nationalist reform and modernization, that some conservatives characterized as Westernization.
Bhutto released political prisoners and took other steps to restore fundamental human rights. Bhutto concerned for women’s social and health issues, including the issue of discrimination against women. She also demonstrated considerable skill in winning international diplomatic and economic support for Pakistan.
Honors and Awards: United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. Prize For Freedom by the Liberal International. (1989), Academy of Achievement (2000), Phi Beta Kappa Society
Major works: She authored two books: “Daughter of the East” and “Reconciliation”.

Career and Personal life:

Origin: She was born June 21, 1953 in Karachi, Pakistan. Bhutto was the eldest child of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi descent and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, a Iranian of Kurdish descent.
Education: She received her early education in in Karachi, then pursued her higher education in the United States. From 1969 to 1973 she attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with cum laude honors 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.
Career highlights:  In 1979 she returned to Pakistan after completing her studies and led the political opposition to President General  Zia-ul-Haq after the execution of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
She subsequently endured frequent house arrest (1979 – 1984).
Having been allowed in 1984 to return to the United Kingdom, she became a leader in exile of the PPP, her father’s party.
On 16 November 1988, in the first open election in more than a decade,  PPP won and  Bhutto became Prime Minister.
On  December 2 1988, at age 35 she became the youngest person and the first woman to head the government of a Muslim-majority state in modern times. However she was unable to do much to combat Pakistan’s widespread poverty, governmental corruption, and increasing crime. On 6 August 1990  President Ghulam Ishaq Khan charged  her with corruption and misuse of power. She was dismissed from office, while her husband Zardari was arrested.
In 1993 she was re-elected but her second stint as prime minister (1993 – 1996) ended similarly. In 1999 she was convicted of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. She went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998.
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. Оn 18 October 2007, two explosions occurred shortly after Bhutto had landed and left Jinnah International Airport.
She was not injured but the explosions killed 136 people and injured at least 450. The dead included at least 50 of the security guards. Two month later
she was assassinated while leaving a campaign rally in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007.
Personal life: In December 1976 she was elected president of Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head the prestigious debating society.
Benazir Bhutto’s father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was removed from office following a military coup in 1977 and was sentenced to death by the martial law court. In 1979 he was executed.
In 1985, Benazir Bhutto’s brother Shahnawaz was killed under suspicious circumstances in France. In 1996, the killing of her other brother, Mir Murtaza, contributed to destabilizing her second term as Prime Minister.
On 18 December 1987 in Karachi, she married Asif Ali Zardari, a member of a rich landowning family from Sind. The couple had three children: two daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa, and a son, Bilawal.
On 3 August 2003, Bhutto became a member of Minhaj ul Quran International (an international Muslim educational and welfare organization).
While living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, she cared for her three children and her mother Nusrat, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, traveling to give lectures and keeping in touch with the PPP’s supporters. They were reunited with her husband in December 2004 after more than five years
On 18 October 2007 Bhutto was granted a long-sought amnesty and returned to Pakistan to prepare for the 2008 national elections.
In December she was killed two weeks before the scheduled Pakistani general election of 2008 where she was a leading opposition candidate.
Remains: Buried, Garhi Khuda Baksh, Larkana, Pakistan.
Zest: Benazir Bhutto was 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). Bhutto would later call her time at Harvard University “four of the happiest years of my life” and said it formed “the very basis of her belief in democracy”. From 1977 to 1984 she suffered long periods in detention, during which her health deteriorated. Benazir provided a detailed account of this traumatic period in her acclaimed autobiography Daughter of the East (1988). On June 2006, she received an Honorary LL.D degree from the University of Toronto.

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