Published January 13, 2015
Here is a brief biography of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who escaped injury on Thursday when two explosions killed over 100 people during her return to Karachi.
Benazir Bhutto two-time prime minister of Pakistan (1988-90, 1993-96). She was the first woman to lead a modern Islamic nation
Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, the eldest child in a wealthy land-owning and political family in the Pakistani province of Sindh, and was groomed from an early age to be the political successor to her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Bhutto entered Radcliffe College in the U.S. at the age of 16 and graduated with a degree in government in 1973. She later attended Oxford University becoming president of the renowned Oxford Union debating society.
Her Father Zulfikar Bhutto had become Pakistan's prime minister in 1971.
In July 1977, he was overthrown in a military coup led by Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq.
Bhutto and her father were imprisoned in September, and Zulfikar Bhutto was hanged by the military in April 1979. Benazir Bhutto spent most of the next few years in jail or under house arrest until January 1984 when she was allowed to flee into exile for medical treatment.
Bhutto returned to the country after Zia's regime ended martial law in late 1985
She began reshaping her father's political party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), to embrace conservative political and social positions. The PPP under Bhutto successfully pressured Zia to call elections in 1988. Bhutto and the PPP became the favorites in the poll, and they won a parliamentary plurality in the November balloting. Later that year, Bhutto was sworn in as the first woman in modern times to lead a predominantly Moslem nation
Bhutto's first term was stormy, as she failed to win the trust of fundamentalist Muslims or of the powerful Pakistani military.
In late 1989, alleged acts of corruption by Zardari and other members of Bhutto's family were reported in Pakistani newspapers. These accusations, and her unwillingness to crack down on violence in her native Sindh province, made Bhutto increasingly unpopular, and in August 1990 President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed her.
Escaping conviction on corruption charges, Bhutto quickly recovered from her ouster, and she became once again a vocal opposition leader, assailing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his efforts to incorporate Islamic law into legislation.
In October 1993, campaigning on an anticorruption platform, she led the PPP to an election victory and became prime minister again.
Bhutto's second term was no smoother than her first, as her government remained ineffectual in the face of Pakistan's poverty problems and ethnic unrest; and she faced growing discord within her own family after she ordered the arrest of her brother and political rival, Mir Murtaza Bhutto.
Public antipathy erupted against Benazir Bhutto in September 1996, when Murtaza Bhutto was killed in a gunfight with police; Zardari was later charged with the murder.
The slaying prompted widespread demonstrations against Bhutto's regime
In November of that year, President Farooq Leghari dismissed her, accusing her of corruption and the ordering of "extrajudicial killings."
Bhutto's hopes of vindicating herself in elections in February 1997 were dashed as the PPP won only 17 seats in the 214-member assembly. Bhutto insisted that the elections had been rigged against her
Corruption charges continued to dog Bhutto following her departure from the political spotlight.
Authorities in Switzerland in September 1997 froze serveral bank accounts held by Bhutto, her mother and Zardari
The Swiss action came in response to a request brought by the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who alleged that Bhutto had plundered public funds and transferred them to the Swiss accounts
A Swiss magistrate in August 1998 formally asked Pakistan to indict Bhutto on money laundering charges. Pakistani authorities in July 1998 had indicted Bhutto on charges that she had received kickbacks from a deal involving the import of Polish tractors into Pakistan.
Bhutto and Zardari had two children. When Bhutto gave birth to their second child in January 1990, she became the first modern head of state to give birth while in office