Benazir Bhutto Explained

Benazir Bhutto
Order:12th and 18th Prime Minister of Pakistan
Term Start:19 October 1993
Term End:5 November 1996
President:Wasim Sajjad
Farooq Leghari
Predecessor:Moeen Qureshi
Successor:Malik Meraj Khalid
Term Start2:2 December 1988
Term End2:6 August 1990
President2:Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Predecessor2:Muhammad Khan Junejo
Successor2:Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi
Birth Date:21 June 1953
Birth Place:Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Death Place:Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
Party:Pakistan Peoples Party
Spouse:Asif Ali Zardari
Children:Bilawal, Bakhtwar and Aseefa
Alma Mater:Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Radcliffe College, Harvard University
Religion:Muslim - Shi'a[1] [2] [3] [4]

Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed) (Sindhi: بينظير ڀٽو, Urdu: بینظیر بھٹو,) (21 June 1953  - 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), a centre-left political party in Pakistan. Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state,[5] having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988–1990; 1993–1996). She was Pakistan's first and to date only female prime minister.

Her family is from the Bhutto tribe of Sindhis. Bhutto was the eldest child of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi descent and Shia Muslim by faith,Begum Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish descent, similarly Shia Muslim by faith. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who came to Larkana District in Sindh before the independence from his native town of Bhatto Kalan, in the Indian state of Haryana.[6] [7]

Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister for the first time in 1988 at the age of 35, but was removed from office 20 months later under the order of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 she was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari. 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an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. She was assassinated on 27 December 2007, after departing a PPP rally in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, two weeks before the scheduled Pakistani general election of 2008 where she was a leading opposition candidate. The following year she was named one of seven winners of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.[8]

Education and personal life

Benazir Bhutto was born in Karachi, Dominion of Pakistan on 21 June 1953 to Begum Nusrat Ispahani and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of a prominent Muslim family of Larkana. She attended the Lady Jennings Nursery School and ]] in Karachi.[9] 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 examinations at the age of 15.[10] She then went on to complete her A-Levels at 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 at Harvard University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with cum laude honors comparative government.[11] She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.[10] Bhutto would later call her time at Harvard "four of the happiest years of my life" and said it formed "the very basis of her belief in democracy". Later in 1995 as Prime Minister, she would arrange a gift from the Pakistani government to Harvard Law School.[12] On June 2006, she received an Honorary LL.D degree from the University of Toronto.[13]

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, during which time she completed additional courses in International Law and Diplomacy.[14] After LMH she attend St Catherine's College, Oxford[15] and in December 1976 she was elected president of the Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head the prestigious debating society.[10]

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


Benazir Bhutto's father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was removed from office following a military coup in 1977 led by the then chief of army General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who imposed martial law but promised to hold elections within three months. Nevertheless, instead of fulfilling the promise of holding general elections, General Zia charged Mr. Bhutto with conspiring to murder the father of dissident politician Ahmed Raza Kasuri. Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death by the martial law court.

Despite the accusation being "widely doubted by the public",[16] and many clemency appeals from foreign leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged on 4 April 1979. Appeals for clemency were dismissed by acting President General Zia. Benazir Bhutto and her mother were held in a "police camp" until the end of May, after the execution.[17]

In 1985, Benazir Bhutto's brother Shahnawaz was killed under suspicious circumstances in France. Later in 1996 the killing of her other brother, Mir Murtaza, contributed to destabilizing her second term as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

Bhutto, who had returned to Pakistan after completing her studies, found herself placed under house arrest in the wake of her father's imprisonment and subsequent execution. Having been allowed in 1984 to return to the United Kingdom, she became a leader in exile of the PPP, her father's party, 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 PPP and the pro-democracy opposition to the Zia-ul-Haq regime.

The seat from which Benazir contested for the post of Prime Minister, was the same one from which her father had previously contested, namely, NA 207. This seat was first contested in 1926 by the late Sardar Wahid Bux Bhutto, in the first ever elections in Sindh. The elections were for the Central Legislative Assembly of India. Sardar Wahid Bux won, and became not only the first elected representative from Sindh to a democratically elected parliament, but also the youngest member of the Central Legislative Assembly, aged 27. Wahid Bux's achievement was monumental as it was he who was the first Bhutto elected to a government, from a seat which would, thereafter always be contested by his family members. Therefore, it was he who provided the breakthrough and a start to this cycle. Sardar Wahid Bux went on to be elected to the Bombay Council as well. After Wahid Bux's untimely and mysterious death at the age of 33, his younger brother Nawab Nabi Bux Bhutto contested from the same seat and remained undefeated until retirement. It was he who then gave this seat to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to contest.

On 16 November 1988, in the first open election in more than a decade, Bhutto'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. In 1989, Benazir was awarded the Prize For Freedom by the Liberal International. Bhutto's accomplishments during this time were in initiatives for nationalist reform and modernization, that some conservatives characterized as Westernization. Bhutto's government was dismissed in 1990 following charges of corruption, for which she was never tried. Zia's protégé Nawaz Sharif came to power after the October 1990 elections. She served as leader of the opposition while Sharif served as Prime Minister for the next three years.

In October 1993 elections were held again and her PPP coalition was victorious, returning Bhutto to office and allowing her to continue her reform initiatives. According to journalist Shyam Bhatia, Bhutto smuggled CDs containing uranium enrichment data to North Korea on a state visit that same year in return for data on missile technology.[18] In 1996, amidst various corruption scandals Bhutto was dismissed by then-president Farooq Leghari, who used the Eighth Amendment discretionary powers to dissolve the government. The Supreme Court affirmed President Leghari's dismissal in a 6-1 ruling.[19] Criticism against Bhutto came from the Punjabi elites and powerful landlord families who opposed Bhutto. She blamed this opposition for the destabilization of Pakistan. Musharraf characterized Bhutto's terms as an "era of sham democracy" and others characterized her terms a period of corrupt, failed governments.[20]

Policies for women

During the election campaigns the Bhutto government voiced its concern for women's social and health issues, including the issue of discrimination against women. Bhutto announced plans to establish women's police stations, courts, and women's development banks. Despite these plans, Bhutto did not propose any legislation to improve welfare services for women. During her election campaigns, she promised to repeal controversial laws (such as Hudood and Zina ordinances) that curtail the rights of women in Pakistan.[21]

The Zina ordinance was finally repealed by a Presidential Ordinance issued by Pervez Musharraf in July 2006.[23] She, like many leaders at the time, viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilize Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian republics, according to author Stephen Coll.[26] He claims that like the United States, her government provided military and financial support for the Taliban, even sending a small unit of the Pakistani army into Afghanistan.

More recently, she took an anti-Taliban stance, and condemned terrorist acts allegedly committed by the Taliban and their supporters.[27]

Charges of corruption

French, Polish, Spanish, and Swiss documents have fuelled the charges of corruption against Bhutto and her husband. They faced a number of legal proceedings, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks. Though never convicted, her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in prison on similar corruption charges. After being released on bail in 2004, Zardari suggested that his time in prison involved torture; human rights groups have supported his claim that his rights were violated.[28]

A 1998 New York Times investigative report[29] claims that Pakistani investigators have documents that uncover a network of bank accounts, all linked to the family's lawyer in Switzerland, with Asif Zardari as the principal shareholder. According to the article, documents released by the French authorities indicated that Zardari offered exclusive rights to Dassault, a French aircraft manufacturer, to replace the air force's fighter jets in exchange for a 5% commission to be paid to a Swiss corporation controlled by Zardari. The article also said a Dubai company received an exclusive license to import gold into Pakistan for which Asif Zardari received payments of more than $10 million into his Dubai-based Citibank accounts. The owner of the company denied that he had made payments to Zardari and claims the documents were forged.

Bhutto maintained that the charges levelled against her and her husband were purely political.[30] [31] An Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) report supports Bhutto's claim. It presents information suggesting that Benazir Bhutto was ousted from power in 1990 as a result of a witch hunt approved by then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The AGP report says Khan illegally paid legal advisers 28 million rupees to file 19 corruption cases against Bhutto and her husband in 1990–92.[32]

Yet the assets held by Bhutto and her husband continue to be scrutinized and speculated about. The prosecutors have alleged that their Swiss bank accounts contain £740 million.[33] Zardari also bought a neo-Tudor mansion and estate worth over £4 million in Surrey, England, UK.[34] [35] The Pakistani investigations have tied other overseas properties to Zardari's family. These include a $2.5 million manor in Normandy owned by Zardari's parents, who had modest assets at the time of his marriage.[29] Bhutto denied holding substantive overseas assets.


On 23 July 1998, the Swiss Government handed over documents to the government of Pakistan which relate to corruption allegations against Benazir Bhutto and her husband.[36] The documents included a formal charge of money laundering by Swiss authorities against Zardari. The Pakistani government had been conducting a wide-ranging inquiry to account for more than $13.7 million frozen by Swiss authorities in 1997 that was allegedly stashed in banks by Bhutto and her husband. The Pakistani government recently filed criminal charges against Bhutto in an effort to track down an estimated $1.5 billion she and her husband are alleged to have received in a variety of criminal enterprises.[37] The documents suggest that the money Zardari was alleged to have laundered was accessible to Benazir Bhutto and had been used to buy a diamond necklace for over $175,000.[38] The PPP has responded by flatly denying the charges, suggesting that Swiss authorities have been misled by false evidence provided by the Government of Pakistan.

On 6 August 2003, Swiss magistrates found Bhutto and her husband guilty of money laundering.[39] They were given six-month suspended jail terms, fined $50,000 each and were ordered to pay $11 million to the Pakistani government. The six-year trial concluded that Bhutto and Zardari deposited in Swiss accounts $10 million given to them by a Swiss company in exchange for a contract in Pakistan. The couple said they would appeal. The Pakistani investigators say Zardari opened a Citibank account in Geneva in 1995 through which they say he passed some $40 million of the $100 million he received in payoffs from foreign companies doing business in Pakistan.[40] In October 2007, Daniel Zappelli, chief prosecutor of the canton of Geneva, said he received the conclusions of a money laundering investigation against former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on October 29, but it was unclear whether there would be any further legal action against her in Switzerland.[41]


The Polish Government has given Pakistan 500 pages of documentation relating to corruption allegations against Benazir Bhutto and her husband. These charges are in regard to the purchase of 8,000 tractors in a 1997 deal.[42] [43] According to Pakistani officials, the Polish papers contain details of illegal commissions paid by the tractor company in return for agreeing to their contract.[44] It was alleged that the arrangement "skimmed" Rs 103 mn rupees ($2 million) in kickbacks.[30] "The documentary evidence received from Poland confirms the scheme of kickbacks laid out by Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto in the name of (the) launching of Awami tractor scheme", APP said. Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari allegedly received a 7.15% commission on the purchase through their front men, Jens Schlegelmilch and Didier Plantin of Dargal S.A., who received about $1.969 million for supplying 5,900 Ursus tractors.[45]


Potentially the most lucrative deal alleged in the documents involved the effort by Dassault Aviation, a French military contractor. French authorities indicated in 1998 that Bhutto's husband, Zardari, offered exclusive rights to Dassault to replace the air force's fighter jets in exchange for a five percent commission to be paid to a corporation in Switzerland controlled by Zardari.[46]

At the time, French corruption laws forbade bribery of French officials but permitted payoffs to foreign officials, and even made the payoffs tax-deductible in France. However, France changed this law in 2000.[47]

Helicopter scandal

In 1998-1999, an enquiry was conducted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament to investigate the matter regarding the purchase of the helicopter. The case involves defrauding substantive sum of $2.168 million and $1.1 million public money. The record shows that the case was not pursued properly nor diligently. FIR No 1 of 1998 was registered with Federal Investigation Agency State Bank Circle Rawalpindi on the complaint of Cabinet Division. Thorough investigation was conducted by the committee headed by Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir and two other members, namely Faridullah Jamali and Jamshaid Ali Shah. During this investigation the committee Chairman Barjees Tahir summoned both the former President Farooq Leghari and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto along with others, and they were investigated. The case received extensive media coverage both inside and outside Pakistan. The recommendations of the committee, obtained from the file, are as follows:

6.1: That FIR be lodged against (1) Malik Allah Yar Khan of Kalabagh, (2) Zia Pervez Hussain, (3) and Dr M.A. Khan, and that criminal proceedings be instituted against them for defrauding the government.

6.2: That the amount of $2.168 million be recovered from Malik Allah Yar Khan, Zia Pervez Hussain and Dr M.A. Khan by attaching their properties etc in Pakistan or abroad for this purpose. FIA may be directed to take steps to recover this money through Interpol, if necessary. Any banker or foreign national involved in this fraud may also be taken to task by the Federal Investigation Agency.

6.3: That since Benazir Bhutto is clearly responsible for this loss to the exchequer as major decisions in respect of this contract were taken with her approval or direction and passed on to Cabinet Division through former PS PM (Ahmad Sadiq), FIR may be registered against her for causing loss to state by misuse of her authority as PM, and criminal proceedings be initiated.

6.4: That since Farooq Leghari knows that his name has visibly come up in this case, and he has tried to plead innocent; and since it is unimaginable that those operating in this scandal could have easy access to the top bureaucrats like Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and even to the Prime Minister herself without the backing and active support of the President, FIR against him must also be registered and criminal proceedings initiated.

6.5: That as for the senior civil servants involved in the case, Ahmad Sadiq former PS PM, Humayun Faiz Rasul, and Sahibzada Imtiaz former Cabinet Secretary, no action can be taken against them at this stage as they already stand retired/superannuated.

The case was further referred to the National Accountability Bureau in 2000-02 but no action was taken.

Western Asia

In the largest single payment investigators have uncovered, a gold bullion dealer in Western Asia was alleged to have deposited at least $10 million into one of Zardari's accounts after the Bhutto government gave him a monopoly on gold imports that sustained Pakistan's jewellery industry. The money was allegedly deposited into Zardari's Citibank account in Dubai. Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast, stretching from Karachi to the border with Iran, has long been a gold smugglers' haven. Until the beginning of Bhutto's second term, the trade, running into hundreds of millions of dollars a year, was unregulated, with slivers of gold called biscuits, and larger weights in bullion, carried on planes and boats that travel between the Persian Gulf and the largely unguarded Pakistani coast.

Shortly after Bhutto returned as prime minister in 1993, a Pakistani bullion trader in Dubai, Abdul Razzak Yaqub, proposed a deal: in return for the exclusive right to import gold, Razzak would help the government regularize the trade. In November 1994, Pakistan's Commerce Ministry wrote to Razzak informing him that he had been granted a license that made him, for at least the next two years, Pakistan's sole authorized gold importer. In an interview in his office in Dubai, Razzak acknowledged that he had used the license to import more than $500 million in gold into Pakistan, and that he had travelled to Islamabad several times to meet with Bhutto and Zardari. But he denied that there had been any corruption or secret deals. "I have not paid a single cent to Zardari," he said. Razzak claims that someone in Pakistan who wished to destroy his reputation had contrived to have his company wrongly identified as the depositor. "Somebody in the bank has cooperated with my enemies to make false documents," he said.[48] [49] [50] [51]

Bhutto's niece and others have publicly accused Bhutto of complicity in the killing of her brother Murtaza Bhutto in 1996 by uniformed police officers while she was Prime Minister.[52]

Early 2000s in exile

In 2002, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf amended Pakistan's constitution to ban prime ministers from serving more than two terms. This disqualified 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. On 3 August 2003, Bhutto became a member of Minhaj ul Quran International (an international Muslim educational and welfare organization).[53] [54] [55]

While living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, she cared for her three children and her mother, 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.[56] [57] [58] [59] In 2006, Interpol issued a request for the arrest of Bhutto and her husband on corruption charges, at the request of Pakistan. The Bhuttos questioned the legality of the requests in a letter to Interpol.[60] On 27 January 2007, she was invited by the United States to speak to President George W. Bush and Congressional and State Department officials.[61] Bhutto appeared as a panellist 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. She rebuffed comments made by Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq in May 2007 regarding the knighthood of Salman Rushdie, citing that he was calling for the assassination of foreign citizens.[62] [63] [64]

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 late 2007 or early 2008. It was speculated that she may have been offered the office of Prime Minister again.[65] [66] [67]

Arthur Herman, a US historian, in a controversial letter published in The Wall Street Journal on 14 June 2007, in response to an article by Bhutto highly critical of the president and his policies, described her as "One of the most incompetent leaders in the history of South Asia", and asserted that she and other elites in Pakistan hate Musharraf because he was a muhajir, the son of one of millions of Indian Muslims who fled to Pakistan during independence in 1947. Herman claimed, "Although it was muhajirs who agitated for the creation of Pakistan in the first place, many native Pakistanis view them with contempt and treat them as third-class citizens."[68] [69] [70]

Nonetheless, by mid-2007, the US appeared to be pushing for a deal in which Musharraf would remain as president but step down as military head, and either Bhutto or one of her nominees would become prime minister.[67]

On 11 July 2007, the Associated Press, in an article about the possible aftermath of the Red Mosque incident, wrote:

Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister and opposition leader expected by many to return from exile and join Musharraf in a power-sharing deal after year-end general elections, praised him for taking a tough line on the Red Mosque.

"I'm glad there was no cease-fire with the militants in the mosque because cease-fires simply embolden the militants," she told Britain's Sky TV on Tuesday. "There will be a backlash, but at some time we have to stop appeasing the militants."[71]

This remark about the Red Mosque was seen with dismay in Pakistan as reportedly hundreds of young students were burned to death and remains are untraceable and cases are being heard in Pakistani supreme court as a missing persons issue. This and subsequent support for Musharraf led Elder Bhutto's comrades like Khar to criticize her publicly.

Bhutto however advised Musharraf in an early phase of the latter's quarrel with the Chief Justice, to restore him. Her PPP did not capitalize on its CEC member, Aitzaz Ahsan, the chief Barrister for the Chief Justice, in successful restoration. Rather he was seen as a rival and was isolated.

2002 election

The Bhutto-led PPP secured the highest number of votes (28.42%) and eighty seats (23.16%) in the national assembly in the October 2002 general elections.[72] Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) managed to win eighteen seats only. Some of the elected candidates of PPP formed a faction of their own, calling it PPP-Patriots which was being led by Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat, the former leader of Bhutto-led PPP. They later formed a coalition government with Musharraf's party, PML-Q.

Return to Pakistan

Possible deal with the Musharraf Government

In mid-2002 Musharraf implemented a two-term limit on Prime Ministers. Both Bhutto and Musharraf's other chief rival, Nawaz Sharif, have already served two terms as Prime Minister.[73] Musharraf's allies in parliament, especially the PMLQ, are unlikely to reverse the changes to allow Prime Ministers to seek third terms, nor to make particular exceptions for either Bhutto or Sharif.

In July 2007, some of Bhutto's frozen funds were released.[74] Bhutto continued to face significant charges of corruption. In an 8 August 2007 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Bhutto revealed the meeting focused on her desire to return to Pakistan for the 2008 elections, and of Musharraf retaining the Presidency with Bhutto as Prime Minister. On 29 August 2007, Bhutto announced that Musharraf would step down as chief of the army.[75] [76] On September 1, 2007, Bhutto vowed to return to Pakistan "very soon", regardless of whether or not she reached a power-sharing deal with Musharraf before then.[77]

On September 17, 2007, Bhutto accused Musharraf's allies of pushing Pakistan into crisis by their refusal to permit democratic reforms and power-sharing. A nine-member panel of Supreme Court judges deliberated on six petitions (including one from Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest Islamic group) asserting that Musharraf be disqualified from contending for the presidency of Pakistan. Bhutto stated that her party could join one of the opposition groups, potentially that of Nawaz Sharif. Attorney-general Malik Mohammed Qayyum stated that, pendente lite, the Election Commission was "reluctant" to announce the schedule for the presidential vote. Bhutto's party's Farhatullah Babar stated that the Constitution of Pakistan could bar Musharraf from being elected again because he was already chief of the army: "As Gen. Musharraf was disqualified from contesting for President, he has prevailed upon the Election Commission to arbitrarily and illegally tamper with the Constitution of Pakistan."[78]

Musharraf prepared to switch to a strictly civilian role by resigning from his position as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He still faced other legal obstacles to running for re-election. On 2 October 2007, Gen. Musharraf named Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, as vice chief of the army starting October 8 with the intent that if Musharraf won the presidency and resigned his military post, Kayani would become 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 Musharraf to shed uniform.[79] On 5 October 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.[80] In return, Bhutto and the PPP agreed not to boycott the Presidential election.[81] On 6 October 2007, Musharraf won a parliamentary election for President. However, the Supreme Court ruled that no winner can be officially proclaimed until it finishes deciding on whether it was legal for Musharraf to run for President while remaining Army General. Bhutto's PPP party did not join the other opposition parties' boycott of the election, but did abstain from voting.[82] Later, Bhutto demanded security coverage on-par with the President's. Bhutto also contracted foreign security firms for her protection.


Bhutto was well aware of the risk to her own life that might result from her return from exile to campaign for the leadership position. In an interview on September 28, 2007, with reporter Wolf Blitzer of CNN, she readily admitted the possibility of attack on herself.[83]

After eight years in exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto returned to Karachi on 18 October 2007, to prepare for the 2008 national elections.[84] [85] [86] [87]

En route to a rally in Karachi on 18 October 2007, 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 PPP who had formed a human chain around her truck to keep potential bombers away, as well as six police officers. A number of senior officials were injured. Bhutto, after nearly ten hours of the parade through Karachi, ducked back down into the steel command center to remove her sandals from her swollen feet, moments before the bomb went off.[88] She was escorted unharmed from the scene.[89]

Bhutto later claimed that she had warned the Pakistani government that suicide bomb squads would target her upon her return to Pakistan and that the government had failed to act. She was careful not to blame Pervez Musharraf for the attacks, accusing instead "certain individuals within the government who abuse their positions, who abuse their powers" to advance the cause of Islamic militants. Shortly after the attempt on her life, Bhutto wrote a letter to Musharraf naming four persons whom she suspected of carrying out the attack. Those named included Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, a rival PML-Q politician and chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, Hamid Gul, former director of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and Ijaz Shah, the director general of the Intelligence Bureau, another of the country's intelligence agencies. All those named are close associates of General Musharraf. Bhutto has a long history of accusing parts of the government, particularly Pakistan's premier military intelligence agencies, of working against her and her party because they oppose her liberal, secular agenda. Bhutto claimed that the ISI has for decades backed militant Islamic groups in Kashmir and in Afghanistan.[89] She was protected by her vehicle and a "human cordon" of supporters who had anticipated suicide attacks and formed a chain around her to prevent potential bombers from getting near her. The total number of injured, according to PPP sources, stood at 1000, with at least 160 dead (The New York Times claims 134 dead and about 450 injured).

A few days later, Bhutto's lawyer Senator Farooq H. Naik said he received a letter threatening to kill his client.

2007 State of Emergency and response

See main article: 2007 Pakistani state of emergency. On 3 November 2007, President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, citing actions by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and religious extremism in the nation. Bhutto returned to the country, interrupting a visit to family in Dubai. She was greeted by supporters chanting slogans at the airport. After staying in her plane for several hours she was driven to her home in Lahore, accompanied by hundreds of supporters. While acknowledging that Pakistan faced a political crisis, she noted that Musharraf's declaration of emergency, unless lifted, would make it very difficult to have fair elections. She commented that "The extremists need a dictatorship, and dictatorship needs extremists."[90] [91] [92]

On 8 November 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.

During a telephone interview with National Public Radio in the United States, Ms. Bhutto said "I have freedom of movement within the house. I do not have freedom of movement outside the house. They've got a heavy police force inside the house, and we've got a very heavy police force - 4,000 policemen around the four walls of my house, 1,000 on each. They've even entered the neighbors' house. And I was just telling one of the policemen, I said 'should you be here after us? Should not you be looking for Osama bin Laden?' And he said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am, this is our job. We're just doing what we are told.'"[93]

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. However, leaders of other opposition political parties remained prohibited from speaking in public.

Preparation for 2008 elections

On 24 November 2007, Bhutto filed her nomination papers for January's Parliamentary elections; two days later, she filed papers in the Larkana constituency for two regular seats. She did so as former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, following seven years of exile in Saudi Arabia, made his much-contested return to Pakistan and bid for candidacy.[94]

When sworn in again on 30 November 2007, this time as a civilian president after relinquishing his post as military chief, Musharraf announced his plan to lift the Pakistan's state of emergency rule on December 16. Bhutto welcomed the announcement and launched a manifesto outlining her party's domestic issues. Bhutto told journalists in Islamabad that her party, the PPP, would focus on "the five E's": employment, education, energy, environment, equality.[95] [96]

On 4 December 2007, Bhutto met with Nawaz Sharif to publicize their demand that Musharraf fulfill his promise to lift the state of emergency before January's parliamentary elections, threatening to boycott the vote if he failed to comply. They promised to assemble a committee which would present to Musharraf the list of demands upon which their participation in the election was contingent.[97] [98]

On 8 December 2007, three unidentified gunmen stormed Bhutto's PPP office in the southern western province of Baluchistan. Three of Bhutto's supporters were killed.[99]


See main article: Assassination of Benazir Bhutto. On 27 December 2007, Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally for the PPP at Liaquat National Bagh, where she had given a spirited address to party supporters in the run-up to the January 2008 parliamentary elections. After entering her bulletproof vehicle, Bhutto stood up through its sunroof to wave to the crowds. At this point, a gunman fired shots at her and subsequently explosives were detonated near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people.[100] Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital. She was taken into surgery at 17:35 local time, and pronounced dead at 18:16.[101] [102] [103]

Bhutto's body was flown to her hometown of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana District, Sindh, and was buried next to her father in the family mausoleum at a ceremony attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners.[104] [105] [106]

There was some disagreement about the exact cause of death. Bhutto's husband refused to permit an autopsy or post-mortem examination to be carried out.[107] On 28 December 2007, the Interior Ministry of Pakistan stated that "Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull".[108] However, a hospital spokesman stated earlier that she had suffered shrapnel wounds to the head and that this was the cause of her death.[109] [110] Bhutto's aides have also disputed the Interior Ministry's account.[111] On December 31, CNN posted the alleged emergency room admission report as a PDF file. The document appears to have been signed by all the admitting physicians and notes that no object was found inside the wound.[112]

Al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility for the attack, describing Bhutto as "the most precious American asset."[113] The Pakistani government also stated that it had proof that al-Qaeda was behind the assassination. A report for CNN stated: "the Interior Ministry also earlier told Pakistan's Geo TV that the suicide bomber belonged to Lashkar i Jhangvi - an al-Qaeda-linked militant group that the government has blamed for hundreds of killings".[114] The government of Pakistan claimed Baitullah Mehsud was the mastermind behind the assassination.[115] Lashkar i Jhangvi, a Wahabi Muslim extremist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda that also attempted in 1999 to assassinate former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is alleged to have been responsible for the killing of the 54-year-old Bhutto along with approximately 20 bystanders, however this is vigorously disputed by the Bhutto family, by the PPP that Bhutto had headed and by Baitullah Mehsud.[116] On 3 January 2008, President Musharraf officially denied participating in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto as well as failing to provide her proper security.[117]

Reaction in Pakistan

After the assassination, there were initially a number of riots resulting in approximately 20 deaths, of which three were of police officers. Around 250 cars were burnt; angry and upset supporters of Bhutto threw rocks outside the hospital where she was being held.[105] Through December 29, 2007, the Pakistani government said rioters had wrecked nine election offices, 176 banks, 34 gas stations, 72 train cars, 18 rail stations, and hundreds of cars and shops.[118] Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the rival opposition party Pakistan Muslim League (N), stated that "This is a tragedy for her party, and a tragedy for our party and the entire nation."[119] President Musharraf decreed a three-day period of mourning.

On 30 December 2007, at a news conference following a meeting of the PPP leadership, Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari and son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced that 19-year-old Bilawal will succeed his mother as titular head of the party, with his father effectively running the party until his son completes his studies at Christ Church, Oxford. "When I return, I promise to lead the party as my mother wanted me to," Bilawal said. The PPP called for parliamentary elections to take place as scheduled on 8 January 2008, and Asif Ali Zardari said that vice-chair Makhdoom Amin Fahim would probably be the party's candidate for prime minister. (Bilawal is not of legal age to stand for parliament.)[120]

On December 30, Bhutto's political party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), called for the UK Government and the United Nations to help conduct the investigation of her death.[121] Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been appointed chairman of his late mother's opposition political party in Pakistan. Bilawal is only 19 years old.[122] On 5 February 2008, the PPP released Mrs. Bhutto's political will which she wrote two weeks before returning to Pakistan and only 12 weeks before she was killed, stating that her husband Asif Ali Zardari would be the leader of the party, until a new leader is elected.

International reaction

See main article: International reaction to the Benazir Bhutto assassination.

The international reaction to Bhutto's assassination was of strong condemnation across the international community. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting and unanimously condemned the assassination.[123] Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa stated that, "We condemn this assassination and terrorist act, and pray for God Almighty to bless her soul."[124] India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "deeply shocked and horrified to hear of the heinous assassination of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto. ... My heartfelt condolences go to her family and the people of Pakistan who have suffered a grievous blow."[125] British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated, "Benazir Bhutto may have been killed by terrorists but the terrorists must not be allowed to kill democracy in Pakistan and this atrocity strengthens our resolve that terrorists will not win there, here or anywhere in the world."[126] European Commission President José Manuel Barroso condemned the assassination as "an attack against democracy and against Pakistan," and "hopes that Pakistan will remain firmly on track for return to democratic civilian rule."[126] US President George W. Bush condemned the assassination as a "cowardly act by murderous extremists," and encouraged Pakistan to "honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life."[127] Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone expressed the sadness of Pope Benedict XVI, saying that "the Holy Father expresses sentiments of deep sympathy and spiritual closeness to the members of her family and to the entire Pakistani nation."[126] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that China was "shocked at the killing of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto" and "strongly condemns the terrorist attack."[128] [129] [130]

Scotland Yard investigation

British detectives were asked by the Pakistan Government to investigate the assassination. Although expressing reservations as to the difficulty in investigating due to the crime scene having been hosed down and Asif Zardari refusing permission for a post mortem, they announced on 8 February 2008 that Benazir Bhutto had been killed by impact with the knob on the sun roof following the bomb explosion.

Film on the life of Benazir

It has been reported that Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen will portray Benazir Bhutto in a film co-produced by Zaid Aziz and Henna Rai of Karachi production firm Vox Vision and Leicester-based Sum Films respectively. Tentatively titled "Benazir Bhutto: The Movie", the flick will be shot at various locations in Pakistan, the US, Britain and Dubai, where Bhutto had spent years as a student and later as a political leader in exile. When asked Sushmita about playing this big role, she excitedly told, “Yes, I am keen to play the role.”[131]

Allegation of giving nuclear secrets to North Korea

Shyam Bhatia, an Indian journalist, alleged in his book Goodbye Shahzadi that in 1993, Bhutto had downloaded secretive information on uranium enrichment to give to North Korea in exchange for information on developing ballistic missiles. Bhatia alleges that Bhutto had asked him to not tell the story during her lifetime. Nuclear expert David Albright of the Institute of Science and International Security said the allegations "made sense" given the timeline of North Korea's nuclear development. George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called Bhatia a "smart and serious guy." Selig Harrison of the Center for International Policy called Bhatia "credible on Bhutto". The Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. denied the claims and an United States official dismissed them, insisting that Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had been accused of proliferating secrets before to North Korea (only to later deny them prior to Bhatia's book), was the source.[132]


The Pakistani government honoured Bhutto on her birth anniversary by renaming the Islamabad International Airport after her. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a member of Bhutto's PPP also asked President Musharraf to pardon convicts on death row on her birthday in honour of Bhutto.[133]

Benazir Bhutto's books

Daughter of the East was also released as:

At the time of Bhutto's death, the manuscript for her third book, to be called Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, had been received by HarperCollins. The book, written with Mark Siegel, was published in February 2008.[134]

See also

Books about Benazir Bhutto

Other related publications

External links



Notes and References

  1. Interview with Vali Nasr
  2. End in sight for a dynasty steeped in power, death and politics
  4. [Vali Nasr]
  5. "Benazir Bhutto: Daughter of Tragedy" by Muhammad Najeeb, Hasan Zaidi, Saurabh Shulka and S. Prasannarajan, India Today, January 7, 2008
  6. Web site: Benazir Bhutto's Biography.
  7. Web site: Pakistan Times! » Blog Archive » Biography of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
  9. Web site: Story of Pakistan — Benazir Bhutto. 2003-06-01.
  10. Web site: Bookrags Encyclopedia of World Biography entry.
  11. Encyclopædia Britannica entry
  12. Classmates at Harvard recall a shy girl, 'Pinkie'
  13. Web site: honorary degree recipients.
  14. Web site: WIC Biography - Benazir Bhutto.
  15. Web site: Note at St. Catherine's web site.
  16. Pakistan's Premier Bhutto was Put Under House Arrest
  17. Pakistan Frees Widow And Daughter of Bhutto
  18. News: Glenn. Kessler. Bhutto Dealt Nuclear Secrets to N. Korea, Book Says. Washington Post. 2008-06-01. 2008-06-01.
  19. Web site: Pakistan Supreme Court Upholds Benazir Bhutto's Dismissal on the basis of Corruption and Extra-Judicial Killings of MQM Workers and Supporters.
  20. Many Pakistanis See Leader As Having Reigned Too Long
  21. Turner, Brian S. (2003) Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology (p. 118) Routledge
  22. Web site: Women in Pakistan: Disadvantaged and denied their civil rights. Amnesty International. 1995-12-06. 2008-08-04. Bhutto was pro-life and spoke forcefully against abortion, most notably at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where she accused the West of "seeking to impose adultery, abortion, intercourse education and other such matters on individuals, societies and religions which have their own social ethos."[21]
  23. Web site: Bhutto's deadly legacy.
  24. Web site: Council Members. Council of Women World Leaders. 2008-08-04.

    Policy on Taliban

    The Taliban took power in Kabul in September 1996. It was during Bhutto's rule that the Taliban gained prominence in Afghanistan.[23]

  25. News: Pakistan ends zina. The Hindu Business Line. 2007-02-23. 2008-08-04.

    Bhutto was an active and founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of current and former prime ministers and presidents.[23]

  26. S. Coll, "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001", Penguin Press HC, US 2004
  27. News: Bhutto blames Taliban, al-Qaida for explosions. 2007-10-19. 2008-09-13.
  28. Web site: C'wealth apprised of Asif's 'illegal' detention - Dawn Pakistan.
  29. Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption in Pakistan
  30. Bhutto's Husband Appeals
  31. World News Briefs; Bhutto's Jailed Husband Sworn In as Senator
  32. Web site: The Bhutto saga takes a new turn.
  33. Corruption amnesty may release millions for Bhutto
  34. Asif Zardari lays claim to 4-mn-pound UK estate
  35. £4 m Surrey mansion in Bhutto 'corruption' row
  36. South Asia Bhutto 'corruption' documents reach Pakistan
  37. Swiss Want Bhutto Indicted in Pakistan for Money Laundering
  38. Swiss Want Bhutto Indicted in Pakistan for Money Laundering
  39. Asia: Pakistan: Bhutto Sentenced In Switzerland
  40. THE BHUTTO MILLIONS; A Background Check Far From Ordinary
  41. Swiss prosecutor gets case against Bhutto
  42. £4 m Surrey mansion in Bhutto 'corruption' row
  43. Poland gives Pak papers on $ 2-mn Bhutto bribe
  44. World: South Asia Poland linked to Bhutto corruption charge
  45. NAB says Swiss order names Benazir: Ursus tractor case
  46. Web site: Sweet Economic-Political Deal.
  47. Web site: [,3343,en_33873108_33873838_36428195_1_1_1_1,00.html Steps taken by France to implement and enforce the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions].
  48. House of Graft: Tracing the Bhutto Millions -- A special report.; Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption
  49. Bhutto and Her Legacy: Death in Rawalpindi
  50. The Gold Connection, New York Times, 1998
  51. Graft charges against Benazir lead to UK
  52. "Murtaza Bhutto's Murder" by Fatima Bhutto
  53. Minhaj-ul-Quran International
  54. Benazir Bhutto announces she is Kurdish
  55. profile
  56. Web site: Asia Times - Bhutto on Al-Qaeda. Asia Times - Bhutto on Al-Qaeda.
  57. Pakistani police deploy in force, shut Lahore: Thousands arrested ahead of opposition leader's return
  58. BBC News - Bhutto cleared of corruption charges
  59. The Bhutto saga takes a new turn
  60. Web site: Pakistan seeks arrest of Bhutto, BBC News, 26 January 2006.
  61. Pakistan Times, Pakistan's ex-PM Benazir Bhutto to meet President Bush, by Khalida Mazhar, Jan. 25, 2007
  62. Bhutto at the Council on Foreign Relations
  63. A Piece of Political Theatre
  64. David Frost interview with Bhutto
  65. Former Leader Talks of Return To Pakistan, and Maybe Power
  66. Bhutto claims Sharif agreed to power-sharing deal
  67. Back to Bhutto?
  68. Bhutto gets renewed interest in Pakistan, US may accept ex-prime minister -- will her country?
  69. Why Bhutto and the Elites Hate Musharraf
  70. Benazir, elites hate Musharraf because of his ethnicity, claims US author
  71.,,-6773175,00.html Mosque Crisis May Boost Musharraf's Hand
  72. Web site: 2002 election results by ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan).
  73. Web site: Pakistan Court Bars Former Prime Minister From Election.
  74. Web site: Bhutto's accounts de-frozen for deal with Musharraf: reports - India News.
  75. Bhutto: 'Musharraf has agreed to quit as military chief'
  76. Bhutto Expects Musharraf to Quit as Military Chief
  77. Web site: BBC NEWS, Bhutto vows early Pakistan return.
  78. Web site: AP: Pakistani court hears cases on Musharraf.
  79. Web site: New York Times, Maneuvering Before Vote in Pakistan.
  80. Web site: Musharraf signs national reconciliation ordinance.
  81. Web site: Musharraf wins presidential vote.
  82. Web site: BBC NEWS, Musharraf 'wins presidency vote'.
  83. Wolf Blitzer interview
  84. News: Supporters flock to Karachi for Bhutto's return. 2007-10-17. CBC News.
  85. News: Huge crowds greet Bhutto return. BBC News. 2007-10-18. 2007-10-18.
  86. Opposition walks out: State media accused of maligning Benazir
  87. Web site:,Bhutto returns to Pakistan after 8 years. 2007-10-18.
  88. A Wrong Must Be Righted
  89. News: After Bombing, Bhutto Assails Officials' Ties. 2007-10-20. New York Times.
  90. Musharraf declares emergency in Pakistan
  91. News: Pakistani opposition leader Bhutto returns to Karachi. PR Inside. 2007-11-03. 2007-11-03.
  92. News: Benazir returns to Pak, faces no problem. 2007-11-03. 2007-11-03. IBN Live.
  93. NPR telephone interview with Steve Inskeep
  94. Web site: Sharif, Bhutto set aside differences. 2007-12-04.
  95. Web site: Musharraf: State of emergency will end before elections. 2007-11-29.
  96. Web site: Pakistan's Bhutto launches election manifesto. 2007-11-30.
  97. Web site: Sharif, Bhutto and the ex-general. 2007-11-29.
  98. Web site: Ultimatum Delivered: Pakistan's leading opposition leaders have united (sort of) against President Pervez Musharraf. But their impact will probably be minimal. 2007-12-04.
  99. Web site: Gunmen kill Bhutto's supporters. 2007-12-08.
  100. Web site: Scotland Yard: Bomb blast killed Bhutto. 2008-02-08.
  101. Bhutto photographer: 'Gunshots rang out and she went down'
  102. News: BBC News. Benazir Bhutto 'killed in blast'. 2007-12-27.
  103. Web site: Benazir Bhutto assassinated. 2007-12-27.
  104. Web site: Bhutto's body in Larkana for burial. 2007-12-28. 2007-12-28.
  105. News: CNN Asia. Bhutto's body flown home. 2007-12-27.
  106. Pakistanis Bury Bhutto and Brace for More Turmoil
  107. Bhutto murder: the key questions
  108. News: Bhutto Assassination: Bhutto's Last Moments Captured on Tape. Reuters. 2007-12-28. 2007-12-29.
  109. Bhutto died after hitting sun roof
  110. Pakistan: Bhutto Died of Skull Fracture
  111. Web site: Bhutto death explanation 'pack of lies'. 2007-12-28. Herald Sun.
  112. News: Bhutto's murder: Many theories, many questions. CNN. 2007-12-31. 2008-01-01.
  113. Web site: Al-Qaida claims Bhutto assassination. 2007-12-28. 2007-12-28.
  114. Bhutto died after hitting sun roof
  115. Web site: Named: the al-Qaeda chief who 'masterminded murder'. 2007-12-29. 2007-12-29.
  116. Web site: Bhutto's Party Rejects Al-Qaeda Claim as Riots Spread (Update5). 2007-12-29. 2007-12-29.
  117. News: Musharraf Denies Allegations Of Involvement in Bhutto Killing. Wall Street Journal. 2008-01-03. 2008-01-03.
  118. News: Mourners converge on Benazir's house ahead of meeting on poll plans. Associated Press via The Hindu. 2007-12-30. 2007-12-30.
  119. News: Bhutto Assassination Ignites Disarray. New York Times. 2007-12-28. 2007-12-28. Salman Masood. Carlotta Gall.
  120. News: Bhutto's son named as successor. BBC News. 2007-12-31. 2007-12-30.
  121. News: PPP ask UK and UN for help. BBC. BBC. 2007-12-30. 2007-12-30.
  122. Web site: Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (shaheed).
  123. News: Security Council, in presidential statement, condemns 'in strongest terms' suicide attack that killed former prime minister of Pakistan. UN Department of Public Information. 2007-12-27. 2007-12-28.
  124. News: Arab League condemns Bhutto's assassination. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). 2007-12-27. 2007-12-28.
  125. News: Nilova. Roy. India expresses shock, horror at Bhutto's assassination. Hindustan Times. 2007-12-27. 2007-12-27.
  126. News: Reactions to Bhutto assassination. BBC. 2007-12-27. 2007-12-27.
  127. News: Bhutto's death heightens democracy concerns. CNN. 2007-12-27. 2007-12-27.
  128. News: Global outrage over assassination. Al-Jazeera. 2007-12-27. 2007-12-27.
  129. Life in Pictures
  130. Bhutto's fateful moment
  131. News: Sushmita Sen roped in to play Benazir Bhutto. Radio Sargam. Punn. Goher. 28 January 2009. 28 January 2009.
  132. NTI: Global Security Newswire - Monday, June 2, 2008
  133. Web site: Pakistan pays tribute to Bhutto. Reuters. 2008-06-21. 2008-06-24.
  134. Bhutto's book primed. HarperCollins rushes manuscript into print