Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan and
Chairperson - Pakistan
Born June 21, 1953,
in Karachi, Pakistan
Daughter of Shaheed
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a political leader and former Prime Minister) and
Nusrat Bhutto (former Member of Parliament and Deputy Prime Minister
18, 1987 to Asif Ali Zardari (in business, twice elected Member of
National Assembly and Senate)
Bakhtwar and Aseefa.
Harvard University, B.A., 1973;
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, B.A., 1976;
Graduate study at Oxford in Foreign Service, 1976-77.
with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan, 1977-84; repeatedly
imprisoned and kept under house arrest by the Pakistani government;
political exile in London, England, 1984-86; returned to Pakistan in
April, 1986; Pakistan Peoples Party, Karachi, Pakistan co-chair,
beginning in 1986; After elections held November 1988, invited to form
the government, became Prime Minister in 1988 but her government was
illegally dismissed in August 1990. She again came to power after her
party won a majority in elections held in October 1993. Her government
was once again dismissed illegally in November 1996.
Pakistani former Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first woman ever to lead a modern Islamic
nation, did not plan to be a politician. She became active in politics
after her father, the late Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,
was ousted from office in a 1977 military coup and later executed.
Having sworn to carry her father's political flame, Benazir Bhutto
overcame government persecution and a lack of political experience,
leading her Pakistan Peoples Party to victory in the November 1988 and
October 1993 parliamentary elections. As Prime Minister, Bhutto has
been praised for moving swiftly to restore civil liberties and political
freedom, suspended under military rule. During her terms of office, she
has faced enormous challenges in governing a poor, politically
fractious, and ethnically diverse nation.
Bhutto discusses her
personal life and political career in her autobiography "Daughter of
Destiny", which was published in 1989 to favorable reviews. Born into a
wealthy landholding family with a tradition of political activism in
southeastern Sindh province, Bhutto enjoyed a privileged childhood and
went on to study political science and philosophy at Radcliffe College
and Oxford University. She excelled academically and planned to work
with her father's government as a professional diplomat upon her return
to Pakistan in June 1977.
Only two weeks later,
however, military officers led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq -
capitalizing on public protests of disputed parliamentary elections -
overthrew Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup.
Benazir Bhutto spent the next eighteen months in and out of house arrest
as she struggled to rally political support to force Zia to drop
fallacious murder charges against her father. The military dictator
ignored worldwide appeals for clemency and had Zulfikar Bhutto hanged in
April of 1979.
Bhutto writes in her
autobiography of her last meeting with her father just before his
execution. She also vigorously defends her father's government.
Zulfikar Bhutto's government had mass support and was a democratic
regime that worked for down trodden and have-nots.
began in earnest after the dismissal of her father's government in 1977
and his execution in 1979 as she intensified her denunciations of Zia
and sought to organize a political movement against him. Repeatedly put
under house arrest, she was finally imprisoned under solitary
confinement in a desert cell in Sindh province during the summer of
1981. Bhutto described the hellish conditions in her wall less cage in
"Daughter of Destiny":
"The summer heat
turned my cell into an oven. My skin split and peeled, coming off my
hands in sheets. Boils erupted on my face. My hair, which had always
been thick, began to come out by the handful. Insects crept into the
cell like invading armies. Grasshoppers, mosquitoes, stinging flies,
bees and bugs came up through the cracks in the floor and through the
open bars from the courtyard. Big black ants, cockroaches, seething
clumps of little red ants and spiders. I tried pulling the sheet over
my head at night to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got
too hot to breathe."
Weakened but still
defiant, Bhutto was finally allowed to travel to England in 1984 to
receive treatment for a serious ear infection, and she remained in exile
there until after Zia lifted Martial Law in December of 1985. A huge
crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands turned out on the streets
to greet her - by then the leading symbol of the anti-Zia movement --
when she returned to Lahore in April of 1986. Formally elected chair in
the following month, Bhutto lost no time in organizing mass protests and
civil disobedience campaigns to pressure Zia to relinquish office and
call national elections. Bhutto's stirring oratory, familiar name, and
striking appearance helped give her a strong mass appeal, but she had to
struggle to wrest real power from the PPP's old-guard leadership,
members of which were wary of her gender, youth, and political wisdom.
"An arranged marriage
was the price had to pay for the political path my life had taken," she
writes in "Daughter of Destiny". "My high profile in Pakistan precluded
the possibility of meeting a man in the normal course of events, getting
to know him, and then getting married." But Bhutto had hopes that the
relationship would deepen. "We were coming to marriage with no
preconceptions," she observes. "Our love could only grow."
General Zia's death in
a mysterious airplane crash in August of 1988 instantly thrust Bhutto to
political center stage. In November, she led the PPP to victory in the
first free Pakistani elections in eleven years. Sworn into office as
Prime Minister the following month, Bhutto acted quickly to release
Zia's political prisoners and guaranteed basic civil and political
freedom. A strong and contentious rightist parliamentary opposition of
former Zia allies and Islamic fundamentalists accused the new Prime
Minister of packing the civil service with PPP supporters.
Pakistan's longtime enemy India showed early signs of improving when
Bhutto met with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, but Muslim
unrest in the disputed territory of Kashmir threatened to renew tensions
in early 1990. Despite these problems, political observers credited
Bhutto with keeping the country's chronic ethnic and regionalist
tensions in check and developing a working relationship with the
coup-prone military during her first year in office.
decided to face the system and accepted the challenge to guide people in
the transition from military dictatorship to the management of
democracy. Her government gave a high priority to social sectors like
health, education, clean drinking water, sanitation and energy. The
budgetary allocations in these sectors were increased so that fruits of
democracy and freedom could reach the common man. Similarly, in the
domain of foreign policy, her government pursued an aggressive and
Addressing a historic
US Joint Session of Congress during her state visit to the United States
in 1989, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto called for the establishment of
an Association of New Democratic Nations.
On August 6, 1990
after having been in office less than half of her tenure, President
Ghulam Ishaque Khan dismissed her government unilaterally and called for
While ensuring that
her Party was not returned to power, the President and the Caretaker
Prime Minister filed a series of references against Mohtarma Benazir
Bhutto. Her husband, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari was arrested and imprisoned
for over two years on a number of trumped up charges.
In July 1993, the
President of Pakistan dismissed the Government of Prime Minister Mian
Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges and called for fresh elections. The
Pakistan Peoples Party went to the people in October, 1993 with a new
"Agenda for Change". The programme envisaged government at the
door-step of the people and priority to the social sectors. Mohtarma
Benazir Bhutto was again elected Prime Minister with a broad mandate
after achieving strong popular support in all the four provinces of
She has been mentioned
as "The world's most popular politician" in the New Guinness Book of
The "Times" and the
"Australian Magazine" (May 4, 1996) have drawn up a list of 100 most
powerful women and have included Benazir Bhutto as one of them.
Bhutto is 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 which include
"The Way Out", Pakistan Foreign Policy, Challenges and Responses in the
Post-Cold War era in "After the Cold War" by Keith Philip Lepor and Male
Domination of Women offends her Islamic religion in "Lend Me Your ears:
Great Speeches in History" by William Saffire. The most recent being
"The Way Out" (1980). She has also contributed to many periodicals and
to the books, "Predictions for the Next Millennium" by Kristof and
Nickerson and "Book of Hopes and Dreams" published by Bookmaster Inc.
AND HONORARY DEGREES
Bruno Kreisky Award
of Merit in human Rights, 1988.
Honorary Phi Beta
Kappa Award (1989), presented by Radcliffe College, Harvard
Award "Grand Cordon de Wissam Alaoui"
Highest French Award
"Grand-croix de la Legion Honneur" (1989)
The Noel Foundation
Award, 1990 (UNIFEM).
Honorary Fellow of
Royal College of Physicians
of Edinburgh - 1990
Honorary Award, Tokyo (1996)
Award by the Turkish
Independent Industries and Businessmen Association (MUSAID) on account
of providing assistance to the people of Bosnia.
Golden medal Dragon
of Bosnia awarded by President of Bosnia (1996)
Key to the city of
Los Angeles, presented by the Mayor of Los Angeles (1995)
Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Science (1995)
Medal by University
of California at Los Angeles (1995)
of Law, L.L.D Harvard University (1989)
of Law (Honoris Causa), University of Sindh (1994)
from Mendanao State University, Philippines (1995)
of Law (Honoris Causa), Peshawar University (1995)
of Economics, Gakushuin University, Tokyo (1996)
by Lady Margaret Hall, University Oxford, (1989)
by St. Catherine College, University of Oxford, (1989)
of the Kyrghyz State National University (1995) Kyrghyzstan.
of Yassavi Kazakh Turkish University, Kazakh-Turkish International
Language University, Kazakhstan, 1995.
Honorable Member of
OHYUKAI, Alumni Association of Gakushuin, conferred by OHYUKAI Tokyo
Awarded the 2000
Millennium Medal of Honor by American Biographical Institute, Inc. in
Academy Award of Achievement in London, October 28, 2000
Tolerance Award 2005” by Women World Awards in Leipzig, November 29,
Woman of the Year 2006' by the prominent European Publishing House
based in Dubai as part of "Emirates Woman Awards 2006'.
Nominated Chair of
"Muslim Women for Human Rights and Democracy"
Oslo, Norway, May 6-7, 2007
Joint Session of US
World Economic Forum
at Davos, Switzerland (1994)
of Ireland, (1994)
UN Conference on
Population Planning, Cairo (1994)
UN Commission for
Human Rights, Geneva (1994)
Forum, Singapore (1995)
University, USA (1995)
School of Advanced
International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (1995)