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Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007)
Benazir Bhutto was born on 21st June 1953 in Pinto Hospital Karachi. She was the eldest daughter of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who belonged to the Sindhi family. Her mother was Nusrat Bhutto. She had two brothers and one sister. She got her early education from Lady Jennings Nursery School and Convent of Jesus and Marry in Karachi. After two years she was sent to the Jesus and Mary Convent at Murree. She passed her O-Levels at the age of 15. She completed her A-Levels at Karachi Grammar School. Then, she went to the United States for higher studies. From 1969 to 1973 she attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1989, she was conferred with her honorary Doctor of Law (LLD) degree from Harvard University. Then she went to the United Kingdom for further studies between 1973 and 1977. She studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She took some extra courses in International Law and Diplomacy. In December 1976 she was elected as President of the Oxford University.
She married on 18th December 1987 with Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. She has two daughters Asifa and Bakhtawar and one son Bilawal.
In 1977 her father was removed from office and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq imposed Martial Law and promised to hold the election in three months. After 1979, Benazir and her family struggled hard against the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. Benazir Bhutto and her brother spent the eighteen months in and out of house arrest. Bhutto’s family was arrested seven-time within two years of the military coup. She mentioned all conditions of the wall-less cage in her book “Daughter of Destiny”. In January 1984 after six years of house arrest, she was released by Zia-ul-Haq because of International pressure, and the Bhutto family was allowed to travel abroad for medical services. Where she started her political activities and started raising awareness about the mistreatment of political prisoners in Pakistan during the Zia-ul-Haq government. In 1985, Shah Nawaz Bhutto brother of Benazir Bhutto was murdered by poison. The Bhutto family believed that it was done by Zia-ul-Haq to finish the family of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She visited Washington D.C. in 1989.
After the death of Zia-ul-Haq, she succeeded her mother as leader of PPP. She was the first woman in Pakistan who was ahead of the political party. She contested for the post of Prime Minister in the 1980s from NA-207. This was called the Bhutto clan seat because Sardar Wahid Bux first time contested this seat from Sindh Province. After that, this seat was always contested by the Bhutto family. Benazir Bhutto became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan on 2nd December 1988. In the start, Benazir formed a coalition government with MQM, a liberal party as her ally. Later they isolated MQM’s influence from the government and established a single-party government. During this time Zia-ul-Haq’s internal policies were disclosed and she found it difficult to counter these policies. During her first attempt, she promised to shift Pakistan’s semi-presidential system to a parliamentary system but she was failed to change the system. She started a struggle with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the issues of high authorities. Ghulam Ishaq Khan refused the proposed law and ordinance which reduced his presidential authority.
The steps she took at that time were elegant and were initiatives for nationalist reforms but some conservatives called it westernization. Benazir took office in a very crucial time and a decade of the cold war. She strongly opposed America on its support of Afghan Mujahedin during her first visit to the United States in 1989. Slowly she tried to warm the relations with India and for that purpose, she met Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. She conferred a trade agreement with them when India premier paid a farewell visit to Pakistan fair relations were continued till 1990. Benazir Bhutto empowered aggressive military operations in Afghanistan to cause the fall of the perishable communist administration rule and soviet influence in the region.
In 1990 she visited the United Kingdom where she paid respect to Abdul Salam, who was the advisor of Benazir’s father. Abdul Salam has won a Nobel Prize in the field of science and physics. Benazir followed the same policies of her father that he did in 1972. She gave funds and promotes research institutions in Pakistan under the Pakistan Armed forces. In her second attempt, she declared 1996 a year of “information technology”. She wants to make Pakistan a global player in IT. She established technology institutes in rural or urban areas. Benazir also expanded on the space program. She launched a project integrated research program, a missile policy that successfully ended in 1996. The first military satellite Badr-I was also launched in her government and Pakistan became the first Muslim country who launched a satellite in Earth’s Orbit.
In 1989, the midnight Jackle operation was launched under Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the Chief of army staff General Mirza Aslam Beg. Benazir successfully reduced the Ghulam Ishaq’s role in government. She gradually weakens his importance in national or international politics. Ghulam Ishaq Khan thought Benazir a young and inexperienced. But he misjudged her abilities. The corruption of Benazir Bhutto undermined her political career. The internal problems like unemployment and strikes were started which caused to jam the economic wheel of the country. The problems were not solved by Benazir Bhutto because besides this she was facing a cold war with President Ishaq Khan. In 1990, according to the 8th amendment, her government was dismissed. After her dismissal Election commission called the new parliamentary election in 1990. Nawaz Sharif won the majority of parliament and Benazir was elected as the leader of PPP for the next five years. Nawaz Sharif became the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan it was the first time that conservative forces got a chance to rule the country. During this time Benazir worked for her voice and screen image. Benazir visited launches at the Institute of Development Economics (IDE). She had been reading its publications till the 1970s.
In 1993, Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister for the second time. In her 1st attempt, she learned a lot from the presidency of Ghulam Ishaq Khan and carefully decided to elect Farooq Laghari as her president. He was elected 8th President and 1st Baloch of Pakistan who became President, on November 14, 1993. Benazir Bhutto was an economist and during her government, she had no Treasure Minister. She tried to improve the economy of a country. She tried to end nationalization and carried out an industrialization program.
In her second term, she expanded relations with the rest of the world. She visited Libya and besides this, she thanked Muammar-al-Gaddafi for his tremendous efforts and support for her father during his government. In 1996 her brother Murtaza Bhutto was shot down and died near his house in Karachi. His brother Murtaza Bhutto was against her operation Urdu-Speaking class. Murtaza Bhutto had also created difficulties for her to run the government. Party workers and Nusrat Bhutto wants Murtaza to be the country’s Prime Minister and as well as the chairperson of the party. Murtaza died on 29th September 1996 and at his funeral, her mother blamed Benazir and Zardari.
Farooq Ahmad Laghri dismissed the government because of Murtaza’s death and corruption. She was shocked by this because it was not by the military leaders but by her own hand-picked President who dismissed the power. Strong opposition against Benazir aroused from Punjab and Kashmir province. After the end of her government, many members of the cabinet and her husband were thrown into jail. She went to Dubai with her children. During her stay in Dubai, she looked after her children and her mother. She traveled to different countries to give lectures. She kept in touch with her party workers.
In 2007 she declared that she wanted to return to Pakistan. She returned to her homeland on 18th October 2007. She knew that it was a risk for her to visit Pakistan and she mentioned the possibility of her murder. On the same date, two bomb blasts occurred near her but she was not injured. She informed the Pakistani government about these attacks on her but it did not take any steps for her security. On 27th December 2007, she was killed after leaving a rally from Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi. She was shot down while weaving from her vehicle’s sunroof. She was injured and rushed to the Rawalpindi General Hospital. She was taken for surgery at 17:35 and her death was announced at 18:16. Two causes were defined for her death the explosion and gunshot wounds. Commander of Al-Qaida took the responsibility of attack on her. Her son Bilawal Bhutto succeeded her as ahead of PPP and his father is running the party until he completes his studies.