Bhutto, Benazir, pronounced BOO toh, BEHN uh zihr (1953-...), served as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 until 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman ever to head an elected government in an Islamic nation.
Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, in Karachi. She attended Harvard University in the United States and Oxford University in England. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founded the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and became prime minister in 1971. In 1977, he was overthrown by General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq and imprisoned. The military government executed him in 1979. Benazir Bhutto was also arrested and imprisoned several times. In 1984, she went into exile in England. She returned to Pakistan in 1986, after the military relaxed some restrictions, to head the PPP.
General Zia died in August 1988. Elections held in December 1988 brought the PPP to power, and Bhutto became prime minister. In 1990, Pakistan's president charged Bhutto's government with corruption. He removed Bhutto from office. In 1993, elections returned the PPP to power, and Bhutto became prime minister again. In 1996, Pakistan's president charged Bhutto's government with corruption and again removed Bhutto from office. Bhutto was convicted of several corruption charges and sentenced to jail, barred from public office, and fined. She fled the country and denied all the charges, which she claimed had been brought against her for political reasons.
Contributor: Robert LaPorte, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Public Administration and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University; author, Power and Privilege: A Study of Influence and Decision Making in Pakistan.
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