Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) was prime minister of Pakistan in the 1990s. She left the country in 1998 to avoid prison. In October 2007 she returned. She saw herself as Pakistan’s best hope for restoring democracy. On December 27th 2007 she was killed by a suicide bomber at an election rally in Rawalpindi.
She was the leader of the left-of-centre Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), one of the two main parties in Pakistan.
She is not the Bhutto who was prime minister in the 1970s. That was her father. General Zia overthrew him, put him in prison and charged him with murder. In 1979 he had him hanged.
This took place soon after Benazir Bhutto came home from studying at Oxford. The leadership of her father’s party, the PPP, fell on her young shoulders.
Zia threw her in prison: she was a democrat who now had a large following. She spent the better part of five years in a dark cell. When they let her out to see the doctor she set up the party’s London office.
In 1988 Zia was killed and democracy was restored. The PPP won the general election and Bhutto became prime minister. She was a 35-year-old woman in charge of one of the largest countries on earth.
Bhutto is a great fighter for democracy with a never-say-day spirit and great courage. But she made a terrible prime minister: she did not seem to be in control and her top men, particularly her husband, seemed to be filling their pockets with the government’s money. Some say that she was in on it too.
Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is a businessman. Bhutto said that her enemies went after him to get back at her: he has spent years in prison on charges that have never been proved in court.
Charges were brought against her too.
The courts in Pakistan are hardly a place of blind, sweet justice, but what about Switzerland? Even a Swiss court has found them both guilty of money laundering.
She has been prime minister twice: from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. But both times it got so bad that the president had to step in and call for new elections.
Throughout the 1990s power changed hands back and forth between her and Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League.
In 1999 General Musharraf took over.
Bhutto had left the country by then to avoid prison or worse. She lived in Dubai and London with her three children. Her husband joined them in 2004 after he got out of prison.
In October 2007 she returned to Pakistan after Musharraf promised not to put her in prison. Over 200,000 people came out to greet her. A suicide bomber tried to kill her. He killed more than a hundred people but not her.
She bravely pushed on.
But then on December 27th 2007, just two weeks before the general election, another suicide bomber came to kill her. This one succeeded.
– Abagond, 2007.