Bhutto (1953-2007), Benazir
Elder daughter of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto started her political career as her father’s advisor and took over the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after his execution in 1979. She was jailed in Pakistan until 1984, and then went in self-imposed exile in England. She came back in Pakistan in 1986 to participate to a nation-wide campaign for the restoration of democracy. Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan on December 2, 1988, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islamic State. Her government was dismissed in 1990 but she was re-elected Prime Minister in 1993 just to be ousted again in 1996. Bhutto’s attitude toward the Taliban regime which took control of Afghanistan in 1996 during her second tenure as Prime Minister remains highly controversial, though it is unclear to which extent she was involved with installing the Talibans in Afghanistan. While again in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai, she was convicted in 1999 of corruption and sentenced to three years of prison. She continued to direct her party from abroad, being reaffirmed as PPP’s leader for life in 2002. Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on October, 18, 2007, after President Musharraf offered to grant her amnesty on all corruption charges and a possible power-sharing deal promoted by the United States. Her homecoming rally was hit by a suicide attack that she survived but that killed 143 people. On December 27, 2007, she was killed, along with 31 people, in a gun and suicide bombing attack while she drove away from a campaign rally where she had addressed thousands of supporters at Liaquat Ali Bagh in Rawalpindi. Amid a bitter controversy on the real cause of her death, the Government of Pakistan accused Islamist militants, who clearly resented the fact that she was sponsored by the United States and her claim to eradicate militant Islamism from Pakistan, while others pointed to the possible implication of the security agencies.