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Benazir Bhutto: A democratic icon being remembered today

Six years have passed since Benazir Bhutto was killed but her dynamic personality is still remembered in the world. Today marks the sixth death anniversary of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson.

Benazir Bhutto was born in Karachi to the dominant Bhutto dynasty with a rich political background. She left her homeland to study at Harvard University at the age of 16. After completing her degree at Harvard she moved to the prestigious Oxford University to pursue her higher education.

She returned to Pakistan when her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was elected Prime Minister but soon after General Zia-ul-Haq overthrew his Government and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged on murder charges.

After the hanging of Bhutto, she was arrested many times. She was placed under house arrests and detention with her mother. She was allowed to leave the country in 1984. After the mysterious killing of her brother Murtaza Bhutto she came back to Pakistan but was again arrested on grounds of carrying anti-government rallies.

Anti-Zia demonstrations became intense and she returned to Pakistan in 1986. She was being fully supported by the masses and she started demanding the military dictator to step down from power.

She married Asif Ali Zardari in 1987.

After General Zia-ul-Haq was killed in an air crash in 1988 and elections were held. She became the first woman to be elected as Prime Minister in an Islamic country.

In 1990, Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto from power. She started campaigns against corruption and was re-elected as Prime Minister in 1993. The slogan of her father Roti, Kapra, Makaan (Food, Cloth and Shelter) was the main aim of her Governance. However, the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad and Islamic fundamentalists became her main opposition.

She was again dismissed from office after the National Assembly was dissolved by Farooq Ahmed Leghari on grounds of mismanagement. Her re-election try was foiled in 1997 and Nawaz Sharif was made the Prime Minister. Her husband was imprisoned on corruption charges.

Benazir Bhutto lived in London in exile for nine years with her family. She continued her fight and struggle for restoring democracy during the reign of General Pervez Musharraf. She returned to Pakistan in 2007 despite receiving threats from militants.

She returned to Pakistan on 18th October and received an overwhelmed welcome with a crowd of millions of people. Soon the celebration turned into mourning as a suicide attack killed more than 150 people in the area of Karsaz in Karachi.

With the General Elections of 2008 looming large, on 27th December 2007, while addressing the crowd at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi for election campaign, a suicide bomber opened fire at Benazir’s vehicle and later exploded himself. She was shifted to the hospital in a serious condition but succumbed to the injuries on her way.

Benazir Bhutto is considered as an icon of democracy as her struggle for democracy during the toughest times of Pakistan has been highly regarded in the world. Benazir Bhutto undoubtedly was one of the most powerful figures ever to emerge in Pakistan politics.

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