Benazir Bhutto’s 63rd birth anniversary today
Benazir was born on 21st June 1953 in Karachi to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto. She belonged to an influential political family which became a dynasty in Pakistan.
She left for the esteemed Harvard University at the age of 16 to pursue her higher education. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Harvard, she got enrolled in England’s Oxford University.
The political situation of Pakistan was turbulent at the time when the former prime minister was acquiring her education. Her father, who was heavily criticized by the political right over his reforms and nationalization of industries, was imprisoned and hanged by military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq on a murder charge in 1979.
After Bhutto’s hanging, Benazir led a movement for restoration of democracy in Pakistan against the military rule. She was put under house arrest and was exiled later. She settled in London where she continued to oppose the military dictator.
Benazir’s youngest brother, Shahnawaz Bhutto, was mysteriously killed in 1985 in an apartment in France. She returned to Pakistan only to be held for allegedly inciting the masses against the government.
The political scenario of the country received shockwaves when she announced her return to Pakistan in 1986. Hundreds of thousands of people arrived at Lahore to greet her and the movement against the military government of General Zia started to gain momentum.
General Zia was killed in a plane crash in Bahawalpur on 17th August 1988 and the interim rulers called general elections in the country. At the age of 35 years, Benazir Bhutto was elected the Prime Minister of Pakistan after Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) emerged victorious in the polls. She holds the honor to be the first woman Head of Government of any Muslim country. However, her government was dismissed by than president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on allegations of corruption and mismanagement in August 1990.
She was again re-elected as Prime Minister in 1993. Her aim was to make Pakistan a progressive country with equal opportunity for all citizens. Things did not turn out smoothly as Benazir wanted. In her second tenure, her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto emerged as a fierce opponent of Benazir led government. He was slain in a police encounter in Karachi during her reign in 1996.
Bhutto was again dismissed from office in 1996 and the Parliament was dissolved whereas her husband Asif Ali Zardari was imprisoned for many years. She again went into exile where she continued her fight for democracy.
She decided to return to Pakistan on 18th October, 2007 despite grave threat to her life from rightist militant groups. She was greeted by a crowd of hundreds of thousands on her home-coming in Karachi. However, the celebration turned into grief as her welcome procession was attacked by twin suicide blasts at Karsaz in Karachi. The attack left more than a 100 people dead.
Weeks before the general elections in the country, she targeted in a gun and bomb attack when she was returning after addressing an election rally at Liaquat Bagh of Rawalpindi. The attack in which she was killed with scores of her party activists, jolted the political landscape of the country and triggered a frenzy of anarchy and arson attacks that was resulted in billions of rupees losses to the country.
Benazir Bhutto is considered one of the most dynamic figures in the world politics and her struggle for democracy was posthumously honored and acknowledged in the world.