Bhutto was born in Karachi to a politically important, aristocratic family; her father, the PPP leader Zulfikar, was elected Prime Minister on a socialist platform in 1973. Bhutto studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union. She returned to Pakistan, where her father was ousted in a 1977 military coup and executed. Bhutto and her mother Nusrat took control of the PPP and led the country's Movement for the Restoration of Democracy; Bhutto was repeatedly imprisoned by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's military government and then exiled to Britain in 1984. She returned in 1986 and transformed the PPP's platform from a socialist to a liberal one, before leading it to victory in the 1988 election. As Prime Minister, her attempts at reform were stifled by conservative and Islamist forces, including President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the powerful military. Her administration was accused of corruption and nepotism, and dismissed in 1990. Intelligence services rigged the 1990 election to ensure a victory for the conservative Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), after which Bhutto served as the Leader of the Opposition.
After the IJI government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also dismissed on corruption charges, Bhutto led the PPP to victory in the 1993 elections. Her second term oversaw economic privatisation and attempts to advance women's rights. Her government was damaged by several controversies, including the assassination of her brother Murtaza, a failed 1995 coup d'état, and a further bribery scandal involving her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari; in response to the latter, the President again dismissed her government. The PPP lost the 1997 election and in 1998 she went into self-exile in Dubai, leading her party mainly through proxies. A widening corruption inquiry culminated in a 2003 conviction in a Swiss court. Following United States-brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections; her platform emphasised civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence. After a political rally in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated by a suicide bomber; the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, although the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban and rogue elements of the intelligence services were widely suspected. She was buried at her family mausoleum.
Bhutto was a controversial figure. She was often criticised as being politically inexperienced and corrupt, and faced much opposition from Pakistan's Islamist lobby for her secularist and modernising agenda. She nevertheless remained domestically popular and also attracted support from Western nations, for whom she was a champion of democracy and women's rights. Several universities and public buildings in Pakistan bear Benazir's name, while her career influenced a number of activists including Malala Yousafzai.
Bhutto was born on 21 June 1953 in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Her father was the politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and her mother was Begum Nusrat Ispahani, of Iranian Kurdish descent. Zulfikar was the son of Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a prominent politician who had served as Prime Minister of the Junagadh State. The Bhuttos were aristocratic, wealthy landlords from Sindh, and were Sunni Muslims. She was their first child, and following Benazir's birth, her parents had three further children: Murtaza was born in 1954, Sanam in 1957, and Shahnawaz in 1958. Her first language was English; as a child she spoke Urdu less frequently, and barely spoke the local Sindhi language.
Benazir initially attended the Lady Jennings Nursery School in Karachi. She was then sent to the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi and from there to the Jesus and Mary Convent, a boarding school in Murree. Murree is near the border with India, and during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 Bhutto and the other pupils underwent air-raid practices. Bhutto passed her O-levels with high grades. She then completed her A-Levels at the Karachi Grammar School.
Throughout her youth, Bhutto idolised her father, and he in turn encouraged her educational development in contravention of traditional approaches to women then pervasive in Pakistan. When Bhutto was five, her father became the cabinet minister for energy, and when she was nine he became the country's foreign minister. When she was thirteen, he resigned from the government and a year later established his own political party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). Bhutto immediately joined. In 1968, he was arrested and imprisoned but continued to write to her. From an early age, she was exposed to foreign diplomats and figures who were visiting her father, among them Zhou Enlai, Henry Kissinger, and Hubert Humphrey.
From 1969 to 1973, Bhutto studied for an undergraduate degree at Radcliffe College, Harvard University. Zulfikar asked his friend John Kenneth Galbraith, an economics professor at Harvard who had formerly been a U.S. ambassador to India, to be her local guardian. Through him, Bhutto met his son Peter Galbraith, who became a lifelong friend. Murtaza joined Bhutto at Harvard a year later. Bhutto later called her time at Harvard "four of the happiest years of my life". She left Harvard with a bachelor of arts degree with a major in governance.
She then studied for a second undergraduate degree, in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. After LMH she attended St Catherine's College, Oxford. One of her fellow students at Oxford stated that there, she "epitomized the classic spoilt rich girl from a third world country". She was elected President of the Oxford Union debating society, the first Asian woman to hold that post. She was also president of the Oxford Majlis Asian Society. Despite the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India, she interacted socially with Indian students, and while at Oxford also made proposals of marriage to two fellow Pakistani students, but was rebuffed on both occasions.
At Oxford, she led a campaign calling for the university to give her father an honorary degree; she gained the support of her father's old tutor, the historian Hugh Trevor Roper. Bhutto's campaign was opposed by counter-protests, who believed that her father's supposed involvement in the persecution of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and atrocities in Bangladesh made him unsuitable and ultimately the university declined to award the honorary degree. In later years, Bhutto acknowledged that at this time she had been ignorant of many of the Pakistani Army's complicity in the atrocities in Bangladesh.
In 1971, while she was at Harvard, Zulfikar invited her to join him in New York City, where he was involved in a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Indo-Pakistani War. In 1972, she accompanied her father to the India-Pakistan Summit in Simla as a replacement for her mother, who was ill. There, she was introduced to the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. While in Simla, she attracted much attention from both local and national Indian press. In 1974, she was flown to Lahore to accompany her father at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's summit. Here, she met a number of senior Muslim world leaders.
In 1976 she graduated from Oxford University, intent on joining the Pakistani Foreign Service. Her father however insisted that she remain at Oxford for a further year to attain a postgraduate degree. She returned to Pakistan in June 1977, where she was scheduled to work at the Prime Minister's office and the Inter-Provincial Council of Common Interests during the rest of the summer.
In 1977, Zulfikar Bhutto was overthrown in a military coup led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Chief of Army Staff. In July, Zia declared Pakistan to be under martial law. Zulfikar was then arrested and charged with the murder of Muhammad Ahmed Khan Kauri. After the coup, Bhutto's brothers were sent abroad to canvass international support for their father. Bhutto and her mother remained in Pakistan, although were repeatedly detained for short periods. When she was able, Bhutto visited her father in prison. She also assisted in the preparation of his defence case, which was put before first the Lahore High Court, which sentenced him to death, and then the Supreme Court, which upheld that decision. Just before his execution, Zulfikar urged his wife and daughter to leave Pakistan, but they refused. He was executed in April 1979. Bhutto and Nusrat were then imprisoned for six months, before being released and placed under house arrest for a further six months. The pair were only fully released in April 1980.
Benazir and her mother were appointed co-chairpersons of the PPP. In February 1981 she formally established the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), a group that brought together the PPP with other political parties in the country: the Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan Democratic Party, Pakistan MazdoorKisan Party, Pakistan MazdoorKisan Party, National Awami Party, QuomiMahaz-e-Azadi, Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, and the Tahrik-i-Istiqlal. The MRD called for a four-point programme: an end to martial law, the restoration of the 1973 constitution, parliamentary elections, and the transfer of political power from the military to the elected representatives.
Her brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, turned to paramilitary action, founding the Al Zulfikar group which trained its members to carry out acts of assassination and sabotage to oust the military government. After Al Zulfikar orchestrated the 1981 Pakistan International Airlines hijacking, the government used this as the pretext for re-arresting Bhutto and her mother in March. Bhutto disapproved of the hijacking, believing that it strengthened Zia's hand. In July 1981, Nusrat was released on the grounds of ill health, but Bhutto was not. She was kept for a time in Karachi before being moved to Sukkur prison and then back again to Karachi. During much of this period, she was held in solitary confinement. In the United States—a key ally of Zia's regime—Peter Galbraith helped rally support for Bhutto, most notably from the politicians Claiborne Pell and James Buckley. When Zia visited Washington D.C. in December 1982, they raised the issue of Bhutto's imprisonment with him. As international pressure mounted, the Pakistani government agreed to release her, putting her on a flight to Geneva in January 1984.
From Geneva she proceeded to the United Kingdom, renting a flat in London's Barbican Estate. In March she made a visit to Washington D.C., where she met with middle-ranking government officials but was kept at bay by the governing administration of President Ronald Reagan. Bhutto made several additional visits to the United States over the coming few years. While in exile, Benazir became a rallying point for the PPP. Murtaza believed that it was he, and not Benazir, who was their father's designated political heir; as evidence, he cited that he had been asked to manage his father's Larkana constituency in the 1977 general election. Bhutto biographer Shyam Bhatia thought that this was probably Zulfikar's intention, as the latter would have recognised the significant impediments to a woman being elected leader in a conservative Islamic society like Pakistan. Benazir nevertheless maintained that her father had always wanted her to become a politician.
In July 1985, Shahnawaz died under unexplained circumstances in the French city of Cannes. Bhutto believed that Shahnawaz's murder had been directly ordered by Zia. Zia's government allowed her to bring her brother's body to Pakistan in August, where it could be interned in the family cemetery at Larkana. Shortly after the burial, she was arrested and detained under house arrest until November, at which point she was released and returned to Europe. In December 1985, martial law was lifted in Pakistan and Bhutto decided to return home. She arrived at Lahore Airport in April 1986, where she was greeted by a large crowd. An estimated two million people came to see her speak at Iqbal Park, where she rallied against Zia's regime. She then visited both Sindh and Punjab. In August, she was again arrested and briefly detained for several weeks.
Back in Pakistan, she agreed to an arranged marriage; her mother selected Asif Ali Zardari as a suitable husband. The wedding took place in Karachi in December 1987, and was billed as the "People's Wedding", serving as a de facto political rally. Bhutto would have been aware that being married gave her an image of respectability which would improve her chances of being elected. After the wedding, she soon became pregnant with her son, Bilawal.
In May 1988, Zia dissolved the assemblies and called an election for November. He had not wanted Bhutto to succeed in the election, and his choice of date may have been deliberately chosen so that it coincided with the date when Bhutto was projected to give birth, thus hindering her ability to campaign. He also sought to hinder her chances by declaring that the election would be held on a non-party basis, with candidates standing as individuals rather than as representatives of a political party. Bhutto and the PPP launched a legal challenge to this latter stipulation. In August, Zia suddenly died when his aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Bahawalpur Airport. A joint U.S.-Pakistani investigation was unable to ascertain the cause of the crash, although sabotage was widely suspected. After his death, the Supreme Court announced that the election should take place on a party basis, rather than the non-party basis that Zia had desired. Bhutto insisted that the PPP campaign separately from the MRD, and dropped its socialist platform in favour of economic Thatcherism and a commitment to the free market. Amid predictions that the PPP would win, it received 18,000 prospective candidates, many offering the party money for their selection; this influx of new members and candidates caused upset among many established members, who felt that Bhutto was deserting them.
Islamic fundamentalists spoke out against the idea of a woman leader, claiming that it was un-Islamic. Their propaganda foregrounded what they presented as her un-Islamic behaviour, including a photo of her dancing in a Parisian nightclub. Zia loyalists and Islamic fundamentalists united to form a new political party, Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), which was funded by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The ISI also engaged in vote rigging in an attempt to secure an IJI victory. Despite these attempts, Bhutto led the PPP to victory in the election, taking 93 of the 205 contested seats. The IJI took only 54 seats. This meant that the PPP had the largest number of seats, although not a clear majority. Both the PPP and IJI courted independent MPs hoping to woo them to their site, and unsuccessful attempts were also made by the country's right-wing forces to convince some of the elected PPP parliamentarians to switch allegiance to the IJI.
Two weeks later, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan reluctantly invited Bhutto to form the next government. To do so, she formed a coalition with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, which had 13 seats in parliament, an action that upset the Sindhi nationalist faction within her party. She was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in December. Bhutto became the world's fourth ever woman Prime Minister and the first in a Muslim-majority country, the youngest elected leader in the Islamic world, the world's youngest Prime Minister, and Pakistan's second nationally elected Prime Minister. After her election, party workers were encouraged to refer to her as "Mohtarma".
Bhutto created the largest cabinet in Pakistan's history, although her administration consisted of figures with little political experience. Following her election, there remained significant mistrust between Bhutto and the right-wing military administration; many senior military figures viewed her, like her father, as a threat to their dominant role in Pakistan's political arena. The country's three most powerful figures—the army chief Aslam Beg, the ISI chief Hamid Gul, and President Khan—all had contempt for her family and for the idea that a woman was Prime Minister. This opposition was substantial and contributed to Bhutto's inability to pass any major legislation during her first term in office. She was nevertheless able to ensure the release of a number of political prisoners detained under the Zia government, as well as lifting the country's bans on trade unions and student associations, and removing many of the constraints imposed on non-governmental organisations. She also introduced measures to lift the media censorship introduced by previous military administrations. She entrusted Shamsul Hasan with dismantling the National Press Trust, a conglomerate of over 15 newspapers, but President Khan delayed signing the documents and thus the Trust would only be broken up during her second premiership.
Bhutto succeeded in getting Khan's approval to change two of the country's four provincial governors; she appointed General Tikka Khan, one of the few senior military officers who was loyal to her, as the Governor of Punjab. She also sought to replace the chair of the joint chiefs of staff, Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, but President Khan refused to permit this. Bhutto disliked Khan's hostile attitude toward her, but he had the backing of the military. In the presidential election, Bhutto initially proposed Malik Qasim, who had been involved in the MRD, as the PPP's nominee, but the military refused to accept this. Bhutto relented and agreed that Khan could be nominated as the PPP's presidential candidate. Bhutto also wanted to replace Mahbub ul Haq as finance minister, but again the military opposed her. Compromising, she accepted al Huq's continued role as finance minister but appointed Wasim Jafri as her financial advisor. Beg made it clear to Bhutto that the military would not tolerate her interference in their control of defence and foreign affairs.
Among the problems facing Pakistan when Bhutto took the Premiership was soaring employment and high unemployment. The Pakistani government was bankrupt, with Zia having borrowed at high interest rates to pay government wages. The country also faced a growing problem with the illegal narcotics trade, with Pakistan being one of the world's highest heroin exporters and having rapidly growing levels of domestic usage. Bhutto promised that she would take tough action on the powerful drug barons. 60% of the country's population lived in Punjab province, which was under the control of Zia's protégé, Nawaz Sharif, as provincial Chief Minister. Both Sharif and Bhutto attempted to remove the other from power, with Bhutto accusing Sharif of having rigged the election to become Chief Minister. Sharif benefited from growing Punjabi chauvinism toward the country's Sindhi minority, as well as a perception that Bhutto—a Sindhi—was attacking the Punjab. Although Bhutto had long supported greater autonomy for Pakistan's provinces, she opposed it in the case of the Punjab. Sharif's Punjabi authority refused to accept the federal officials whom Bhutto posted there. Relations between Bhutto and Pakistan's civil service also deteriorated, causing paralysis of many state affairs; Bhutto spoke of it as "Zia's bureaucracy" and her perceived anti-Punjabi stance impacted many civil servants, of whom 80% were Punjabi. In April 1989, opposition parties organised a parliamentary no-confidence vote in Bhutto's leadership, but it was defeated by 12 votes. Bhutto claimed that many National Assembly voters had been bribed to vote against her, with $10 million having been supplied for this by a Saudi Salafi cleric, Osama bin Laden, who sought to overthrow her government and replace it with an Islamic theocracy.
During her first premiership, Bhutto went on a number of foreign trips, enhancing her image as the first female Prime Minister in the Islamic world. In 1989, she attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, where Pakistan was re-admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations. Bhutto attempted to improve relations with neighbouring India, harking back to the Simla Accords. Bhutto claimed that she terminated support for Sikh separatists active in India, something which Zia had encouraged to destabilise Indian control in the Punjab. After being accused of being soft on India, she took a harder line against Pakistan's neighbour, particularly on the Kashmir conflict. In 1990, she made a speech in which she incited Kashmiri Muslims to rise up against their administration, and in interviews expressed support for the Kashmiri Muslim community. In 1990, Major General Pervez Musharraf proposed a military invasion of Kargil as part of an attempt to annex Kashmir; Bhutto refused to back the plan, believing that the international condemnation would be severe.
As Premier, Bhutto was reluctant to challenge the ISI's support for the Islamist mujahideen forces in Afghanistan which were then engaged in a civil war against the country's Marxist–Leninist government. In April 1989, Gul led an invasion of Afghanistan with the purpose of seizing Jalalabad, which was then to be formed into a capital from which the country's anti-Soviet, Islamist-dominated opposition forces could operate. When the operation failed and the Pakistanis were driven out by the Afghan Army, Gul blamed Bhutto's administration for the failure, claiming that someone in her entourage had leaked details of the mission of the Afghan government. Gul was too powerful for Bhutto to force him into retirement, but she did transfer him from the ISI to another section of the military.
After Bhutto became Prime Minister, President Khan and the military were reluctant to tell her about Pakistan's nuclear programme. On a trip to the US, she told Congress that "we do not possess, nor do we intend to make, a nuclear device". Between January and March 1989, she authorised cold tests of nuclear weaponry, without fissionable material.
During her 1990 trip to Britain, Bhutto paid a visit to Dr. Abdus Salam, a Nobel laureate in physics and a science advisor to her father's government. During both her terms as Prime Minister, Bhutto followed the science and technology policy her father laid out in 1972, and promoted military funding of science and technology as part of that policy. However, in 1988, Bhutto was denied access to the classified national research institutes run by the military, which remained however under the control of the civilian president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the Chief of Army Staff. Bhutto was kept unaware about the progress of the nuclear complexes, even when the country passed the milestone in 1986 of fissile core manufacturing capability U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley was the first diplomat notified about the complexes, in 1988. Shortly afterwards Bhutto summoned chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Munir Ahmad Khan to her office; Khan brought Abdul Qadeer Khan with him and introduced him to the Prime Minister.
At that meeting Bhutto learned the status of this program which had matured since its beginnings in 1978, and on request of A. Q. Khan, visited Khan Research Laboratories for the first time in 1989, much to the anger of Ishaq Khan. Bhutto also responded to Khan when she moved the Ministry of Science and Technology's office to the Prime Minister Secretariat with Munir Ahmad Khan directly reporting to her. Bhutto had successfully eliminated any possibility of Khan's involvement and prevented him from having any influence in science-research programmes, a policy which also benefited her successor Nawaz Sharif. During both her prime-ministerial terms Bhutto funded many projects entirely devoted to the country's national defence and security. The dismissal of Lieutenant-General Gul by Benazir Bhutto had played a significant role on Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg, who did not interfere in matters pertaining to science and technology, and remained supportive towards Benazir Bhutto's hard-line actions against the President.
In the 1980s, Benazir Bhutto started aerospace projects such as Project Sabre II, Project PAC, Ghauri project under Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan in 1990 and the Shaheen programme in 1995 under Dr. Samar Mubarakmand.
In opposition to her conservative opponent Nawaz Sharif, whose policy was to make the nuclear weapons programme benefit the economy, Benazir Bhutto took aggressive steps to modernise and expand the integrated atomic weapons programme begun by her father in 1972, who was one of the key political administrative figures of Pakistan's nuclear deterrent development. During her first term, Benazir Bhutto established the separate but integrated nuclear testing programme in the atomic bomb programme, requiring the authorisation of the Prime minister and the military leadership. Despite Benazir's denial that she authorised the nuclear testing programme in her second term she continued to modernise the programme which she termed a "contractual obligation".
It was during her régime that the Pressler amendment came into effect, an attempt to freeze the programme. During frequent trips to the United States, Bhutto refused to compromise on the nuclear weapons programme, and attacked the Indian nuclear programme on multiple occasions. Benazir Bhutto misled the U.S. when she told them that the programme had been frozen; the programme was progressively modernized and continued under her watch. Under her regime, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) conducted series of improvised designs of nuclear weapons designed by the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) at PAEC. Benazir Bhutto also carried messages to Munir Ahmad Khan from her father and back in 1979 as her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had instructed his daughter to remain in touch with the Chairman of PAEC. In this context, Bhutto had appointed Munir Ahmad Khan as her Science Adviser, and he kept her informed about the development of the programme. In all, the nuclear weapons and energy program remained a top priority, along with the country's economy. During her first term, the nuclear program was under attack and under pressure from the Western world, particularly the United States. Despite economic aid offered by the European Union and the United States in return for halting or freezing the program, Benazir continued the program in both her first and second terms.
During her first term, Bhutto approved and launched the Shaheen programme and advocated for the programme. Bhutto also allotted funds for the programme. On 6 January 1996, Bhutto publicly announced that if India conducted a nuclear test, Pakistan could be forced to "follow suit". Bhutto later said that the day will never arise when we have to use our knowledge to make and detonate a [nuclear] device and export our technology.
The People of (Pakistan) ... are "security conscious" because of the (1971) severe trauma, and the three wars with (India). Our (Pakistan) nuclear development was peaceful ... but was "an effective deterrence to India" ... because (New Delhi) had detonated a nuclear device. She (Pakistan) ..., thus, had to take every step to ensure its territorial integrity and sovereignty...
In 1989, the media reported a sting operation and political scandal, codenamed Midnight Jackal, in which former members of ISI hatched a plan to topple the Bhutto government. Midnight Jackal was a political intelligence operation launched under President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg, whose objective was to pass a no-confidence motion in Parliament by bribing and threatening parliament members. Lieutenant-General Asif Nawaz had suspected the activities of Brigadier-General Imtiaz Ahmed, therefore, a watch cell unit was dispatched to keep an eye on him.
This operation was exposed by ISI when it obtained a VHS tape containing the conversation between two former army officers and former members of ISI, from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The tape was confiscated by ISI director-general Lieutenant-General Shamsur Rahman Kallu, who showed it to Benazir the next day. The video tape showed the conversation of Major Amir Khan and Brigadier-General Imtiaz Ahmad revealed that Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Baig of that time wanted to end the government. Though the Brigadier failed to prove General Beg's involvement, General Mirza, on the other hand, sharply denied the accusation and started a full-fledged courts martial of these officers, with Benazir being the civilian judge of JAG Branch to proceed the hearings. The officers were removed from their positions and placed at Adiala military correctional institute in 1989. The officers were released from the military correctional institute by order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1996.
By 1990 the revelation of Midnight Jackal lessened President Khan's influence in national politics, government and the military. Bhutto was thought by the president to be a young and inexperienced figure in politics, though highly educated. But he miscalculated her capabilities; she emerged as a 'power player' in international politics. Bhutto's authoritative actions frustrated the president; he was not taken in confidence when decisions were made. By 1990 a power struggle between the prime minister and president ensued. Because of the semi-presidential system, Bhutto needed permission from Khan to impose new policies. Khan vetoed many, as he felt they contradicted his point of view. Bhutto, through her legislators, also attempted to shift to a parliamentary democracy from the semi-presidential system, but Khan always used his constitutional powers to veto Bhutto's attempts.
In the 1980s, ethnic violence had broken out in Sindh province, with most of those killed being mohajirs. In May 1990, she ordered the army to restore peace in Karachi and Hyderabad. Throughout her first term, Bhutto was criticised for being indecisive and unable to maintain control. There had been anger that her husband had been allowed to attend cabinet meetings despite not being a member of the government. He was also accused of receiving kickbacks and earned the nickname "Mr Ten Percent".
Tales of corruption in public-sector industries began to surface, which undermined the credibility of Bhutto. The unemployment and labour strikes began to take place which halted and jammed the economic wheel of the country, and Bhutto was unable to solve these issues due to the cold war with the President. In August 1990, Khan dismissed Bhutto's government under the Eighth Amendment. He claimed that this was necessary due to her government's corruption and inability to maintain domestic law and order.
The Election Commission of Pakistan called for the new parliamentary elections in 1990. In the election, the PPP only secured 45 of the 217 seats. The Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, or Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA), under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, won a majority in the Parliament; he became Prime Minister. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, conservatives had a chance to rule the country. Bhutto became the leader of the opposition. To journalists she remained unrependent about her time in office, insisting that she had made no mistakes.
In November 1992, Bhutto attempted to perform a 10-mile march from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. However, she was forced to discontinue the rally due to a threat of arrest from Prime Minister Sharif. The demonstration was an anti-government rally that upset Pakistan officials. She was placed under house arrest and vowed to bring down the Pakistani government. In December 1992, a two-day march was conducted in protest of Nawaz Sharif.
After Bhutto's dismissal from government, her husband was arrested and charged with blackmail. According to the allegations, he had attached a remote-control bomb to the leg of a businessman and forced the latter to enter a bank and withdraw money. He would be freed from prison after Bhutto's resumed the premiership in 1993. Following the dismissal, the Bhutto couple purchased an apartment in the Queensgate area of London.
Bhutto began to regularly attend lunches at the Institute of Development Economics (IDE), a think tank founded in the 1950s; she had been visiting IDE and reading its publications since the mid-1970s. During that time, the IDA launched a secret campaign against Benazir Bhutto's image to demoralise party workers; the campaign brutally backfired on Nawaz Sharif when the media exposed the campaign and its motives. More than ₨. 5 million were spent on the campaign and it undermined the credibility of conservatives, who also failed to resolve issues among between them.
Despite an economic recovery in late 1993, the IDA government faced public unease about the direction of the country and an industrialisation that revolved around and centred only in Punjab Province. Amid protest and civil disorder in Sindh Province following the imposition of Operation Clean-up, the IDA government lost control of the province. The Peoples Party attacked the IDA government's record on unemployment and industrial racism.
Sharif had attempted to reduce the president's powers. With growing tensions between him and President Khan, in April 1993 the latter used the Eighth Amendment to dismiss Sharif as Prime Minister, citing corruption and misadministration. Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto would unite to oust the president who lost the control of the country in a matter of weeks. Khan too was forced to resign along with Nawaz Sharif in 1993, and an interim government was formed until the new elections. A parliamentary election was called after by the Pakistan Armed Forces. Both Sharif and Benazir Bhutto campaigned with full force, targeting each other's personalities. Their policies were very similar but a clash of personalities occurred, with both parties making many promises but not explaining how they were going to pay for them.
Sharif stood on his record of privatisation and development, and pledged to restore his Taxicab|taxi giveaway program. Bhutto promised price supports for agriculture, pledged a partnership between government and business, and campaigned strongly for the female vote.
In the 1993 election, the PPP won the most seats, although it fell short of an outright majority, with the PML-N in second place with 73 seats in the Parliament. The PPP performed extremely well in Bhutto's native province, Sindh, and rural Punjab, while the PML-N was strongest in industrial Punjab and the largest cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. On 19 October 1993, Benazir Bhutto was sworn as Prime Minister for second term allowing her to continue her reform initiatives. The following month, the PPP's nominee for the presidency, Farooq Leghari, was also elected.
During her second term, Bhutto appointed both her husband and mother to her cabinet.
Benazir Bhutto was prime minister at a time of great racial tension in Pakistan. Her approval poll rose by 38% after she appeared and said in a private television interview after the elections: "We are unhappy with the manner in which tampered electoral lists were provided in a majority of constituencies; our voters were turned away." The Conservatives attracted voters from religious society (MMA) whose support had collapsed. The Friday Times noted "Both of them (Nawaz and Benazir) have done so badly in the past, it will be very difficult for them to do worse now. If Bhutto's government fails, everyone knows there will be no new elections. The army will take over". In confidential official documents Benazir Bhutto had objected to the number of Urdu speaking class in 1993 elections, in context that she had no Urdu-speaking sentiment in her circle and discrimination was continued even in her government. Her stance on these issues was perceived as part of rising public disclosure which Altaf Hussain called "racism". Due to Benazir Bhutto's stubbornness and authoritative actions, her political rivals gave her the nickname "Iron Lady" of Pakistan. No response was issued by Bhutto, but she soon associated with the term. The racial violence in Karachi was reached at peak and became a problem for Benazir Bhutto to counter. The MQM attempted to make an alliance with Benazir Bhutto under her own conditions, but Benazir Bhutto refused. Soon the second operation, Operation Blue Fox, was launched to wipe the MQM from country's political spectrum. The results of this operation remain inconclusive and resulted in thousands killed or gone missing, with the majority being Urdu speaking. Bhutto demanded the MQM to surrender to her government unconditionally. Though the operation was halted in 1995, but amid violence continued and, Shahid Javed Burki, a professor of economics, noted that "Karachi problem was not so much an ethnic problem as it was an economic question." Amid union and labour strikes beginning to take place in Karachi and Lahore, which were encouraged by both Altaf Hussain and Nawaz Sharif to undermine her authority, Benazir Bhutto responded by disbanding those trade union and issuing orders to arrest the leaders of the trade unions, while on the other hand, she provided incentives to local workers and labourers as she had separated the workers from their union leaders successfully. Benazir Bhutto expanded the authoritative rights of Police Combatant Force and the provisional governments that tackled the local opposition aggressively. Bhutto, through her Internal Security Minister Naseerullah Babar, intensified the internal security operations and steps, gradually putting down the opposition's political rallies, while she did not completely abandon the reconciliation policy. In her own worlds, Benazir Bhutto announced: "There was no basis for (strikes)... in view of the ongoing political process...".
In December 1993, news began to surface in the Swat valley when Sufi Muhammad, a religious cleric, began to mobilise the local militia calling for overthrow of the "un-Islamic rule of [Iron] Lady". Benazir Bhutto responded quickly and ordered the Pakistan Army to crack down n the militia, leading to the movement's being crushed by the Army and the cleric was apprehended before he could escape.
During her election campaigns, she had promised to repeal controversial laws (such as Hudood and Zina ordinances) that curtail the rights of women in Pakistan. Bhutto was pro-life and spoke forcefully against abortion, most notably at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where she accused the West of "seeking to impose adultery, abortion, intercourse education and other such matters on individuals, societies and religions which have their own social ethos." However, Bhutto was not supported by the leading women organisations, who argued that after being elected twice, none of the reforms were made, instead controversial laws were exercised more toughly. Therefore, in 1997 elections, Bhutto failed to secure any support from women's organisations and minorities also gave Bhutto the cold-shoulder when she approached them. It was not until 2006 that the Zina ordinance was finally repealed by a Presidential Ordinance issued by Pervez Musharraf in July 2006.
Bhutto was a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a group established in 1996. She appointed women judges and a women's division in the government, headed by a senior female civil servant. She also oversaw the establishment of a women's bank and all-female police stations. The fundamentalist Islamic laws introduced to restrict women's rights under Zia nevertheless remained in place, and no new legislation was put in place to empower women.
Bhutto was an economist by profession; therefore during her terms as prime minister, she herself took charge of the Ministry of Finance. Bhutto sought to improve the country's economy which was declining as time was passing. Benazir disagreed with her father's nationalization and socialist economics. Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Benazir attempted to privatize major industries that were nationalized in the 1970s. Bhutto promised to end the nationalisation programme and to carry out the industrialisation programme by means other than state intervention. But controversially Bhutto did not carry out the denationalization programme or liberalization of the economy during her first government. No nationalized units were privatized, few economic regulations were reviewed.
Pakistan suffered a currency crisis when the government failed to arrest the 30% fall in the value of the Pakistani Rupee from ₨. 21 to ₨.30 compared to the United States dollar. Soon economic progress became her top priority but her investment and industrialisation programs faced major setbacks due to conceptions formed by investors based upon her People's Party nationalisation program in the 1970s. By the 1990s, Khan and Bhutto's government had also ultimately lost the currency war with the Indian Rupee which beat the value of Pakistan rupee for the first time in the 1970s. Bhutto's denationalisation program also suffered from many political setbacks, as many of her government members were either directly or indirectly involved with the government corruption in major government-owned industries, and her appointed government members allegedly sabotaged her efforts to privatise the industries.
Overall, the living standard for people in Pakistan declined as inflation and unemployment grew at an exponential rate particularly as UN sanctions began to take effect. During her first and second term, the difference between rich and poor visibly increased and the middle class in particular were the ones who bore the brunt of the economic inequality. According to a calculation completed by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the rich were statistically were improved and the poor declined in terms of living standards. Benazir attributed this economic inequality to be a result of ongoing and continuous illegal Bangladeshi immigration. Bhutto ordered a crackdown on and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Her action strained and created tensions in Bangladesh–Pakistan relations, as Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia refused to accept the deportees and reportedly sent two planeloads back to Pakistan. Religious parties also criticised Bhutto and dubbed the crackdown as anti-Islamic.
This operation backfired and had devastating effects on Pakistan's economy. President Khan saw this as a major economic failure despite Khan's permission granted to Bhutto for the approval of her economic policies. Khan blamed Bhutto for this extensive economic slowdown and her policy that failed to stop the illegal immigration. Khan attributed Bhutto's government members corruption in government-owned industries as the major sink hole in Pakistan's economy that failed to compete with neighbouring India's economy.
During her second term, Bhutto continued to follow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's privatisation policies, which she called a "disciplined macroeconomics policy". After the 1993 general elections, the privatisation programme of state-owned banks and utilities accelerated; more than ₨ 42 billion was raised from the sale of nationalised corporations and industries, and another US$20 billion from the foreign investment made the United States. After 1993, the country's national economy again entered in the second period of the stagflation and more roughly began bite the country's financial resources and the financial capital. Bhutto's second government found it extremely difficult to counter the second era of stagflation with Pressler amendment and the US financial and military embargo tightened its position. After a year of study, Bhutto implemented and enforced the Eighth Plan to overcome the stagflation by creating a dependable and effective mechanism for accelerating economic and social progress. But, according to American ambassador to Pakistan, William Milam's bibliography, Bangladesh and Pakistan:Flirting with Failure in South Asia, the Eighth Plan (which reflected the planned economy of the Soviet Union) was doomed to meet with failure from the very beginning of 1994, as the policies were weak and incoherent.
On many occasions, Bhutto resisted to privatise globally competitive and billion-dollar-worth state-owned enterprises (such as Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills), instead the grip of nationalisation in those state-owned enterprises was tightened in order to secure the capital investment of these industries. The process of privatisation of the nationalised industries was associated with the marked performance and improvement, especially the terms of labour productivity. A number of privatization of industries such as gas, water supply and sanitation, and electricity general, were natural monopolies for which the privatization involved little competition. Furthermore, Benazir denied that privatisation of the Pakistan Railways would take place despite the calls made in Pakistan, and was said to have told Planning Commission chief Naveed Qamar, "Railways privatization will be the 'blackhole' of this government. Please never mention the railways to me again". Bhutto always resisted privatisation of United Bank Limited Pakistan (UBL), but its management sent the recommendation for the privatisation which dismayed the labour union. The United Group of Employees Management asked Bhutto for issue of regulation sheet which she denied. The holding of UBL in government control turned out to be a move that ended in "disaster" for Bhutto's government.
Benazir Bhutto's foreign policy was controversial. In her second term, Bhutto expanded Pakistan's relations with the rest of the world. Like her father, Benazir Bhutto sought to strengthen relations with socialist states, and her visit to Libya strengthened the relations between the two countries. Benazir also thanked Muammar al-Gaddafi for his tremendous efforts and support for her father before and during Zulfikar's trial in 1977. Ties continued with Libya but deteriorated after Nawaz Sharif became prime minister in 1990 and again in 1997. Gaddafi was said to be very fond of Bhutto and was a family friend of Bhutto family, but disliked Nawaz Sharif due to his ties with General Zia in the 1980s.
Benazir Bhutto is said to have paid a state visit to North Korea in early 1990 and again in 1996. According to journalist Shyam Bhatia, Bhutto smuggled CDs containing uranium enrichment data to North Korea on a state visit that same year in return for data on missile technology. According to the expert, Benazir Bhutto acted as a female "James Bond", and left with a bag of computer disks to pass on to her military from North Korea. Benazir Bhutto is described as a political "architect of Pakistan's missile technology" by Emily MacFarquhar of Alicia Patterson Foundation. At the leftist convention held in 2014, former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani said, "Benazir Bhutto gave this country the much-needed missile technology".
Major-General Pervez Musharraf worked closely with Bhutto and her government in formulating an Israel strategy. In 1993 Bhutto ordered Musharraf, then Director-General of the Pakistani Army's Directorate-General for the Military Operation (DGMO), to join her state visit to the United States, an unusual and unconventional participation. Bhutto and Musharraf chaired a secret meeting with Israeli officials who travelled to the US especially for the meeting. Under Bhutto's guidance Musharraf intensified the ISI's liaison with Israel's Mossad. A final meeting took place in 1995, which Musharraf also joined. Bhutto also strengthened relations with communist Vietnam, and visited Vietnam to sign an agreement for mutual trade and international political cooperation the two countries. In 1995 Benazir Bhutto made another state visit to the United States and held talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton. Bhutto urged him to revise the Pressler Amendment and launch a campaign against extremism. She criticized US nonproliferation policy and demanded that the United States honour its contractual obligation.
During her second term, relations with Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao further deteriorated. Like her father, Benazir Bhutto used rhetoric to oppose to India and campaign in the international community against the Indian nuclear programme. On 1 May 1995 she used harsh language in her public warning to India that "continuation of [Indian] nuclear programme would have terrible consequences". India responded to this saying she was interfering in an "internal matter" of India, and the Indian Army fired a RPG at the Kahuta, which further escalated events, leading to full-fledged war. When this news reached Bhutto, she responded by high-alerting the Air Force Strategic Command. It ordered heavily armed Arrows, Griffins, Black Panthers and the Black Spiders to begin air sorties and to patrol the Indo-Pakistan border on day-and-night regular missions. All of these squadrons are part of the Strategic Command. On 30 May, India test-fired a Prithvi-1 missile near the Pakistan border, which Bhutto condemned. She responded by deploying Shaheen-I missiles; however, they were not armed. Benazir Bhutto permitted the PAF to deploy the Crotale missile defence and the Anza-Mk-III near the Indian border, which escalated the conflict, but effectively kept the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force from launching any surprise attack.
In 1995 the ISI reported to Bhutto that Narasimha Rao had authorised nuclear tests, and that they could be conducted at any minute. Benazir put the country's nuclear arsenal programme on high-alert made emergency preparations, and ordered the Pakistani armed forces to remain on high-alert. However the United States intervened, Indian operations for conducting the nuclear tests were called off and the Japanese government attempted to mediate. In 1996, Benazir Bhutto met with Japanese officials and warned India about conducting nuclear tests. She revealed for the first time that Pakistan had achieved parity with India in its capacity to produce nuclear weapons and their delivery capability. She told the Indian press, that Pakistan "cannot afford to negate the parity we maintain with India". These statements represented a departure from Pakistan's previous policy of "nuclear ambivalence." Bhutto issued a statement on the tests and told the international press that she condemned the Indian nuclear tests. "If (India) conducts a nuclear test, it would forced her (Pakistan) to.. "follow suit..." she said.
Bhutto also ratcheted up her policy on Indian Kashmir, rallying against India. At an Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting at the United Nations, Bhutto, who was accompanied by her Speaker Yousaf Raza Gillani upset and angered the Indian delegation, headed by prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with a vehement criticism of India. Vajpayee responded, saying: "It is Pakistan which is flouting the United Nations resolution by not withdrawing its forces from Kashmir...You people create problems every time. You know the Kashmiri people themselves acceded to India. First, the Maharajah, then the Kashmiri parliament, both decided to go with India".
Bhutto described Indian held-Kashmir as the worst example of "Indian intransigence" and dismissed Indian allegations of putative Pakistani nuclear tests as "baseless". Bhutto criticised India's bid to hide its plan to explode a nuclear device, and failure to cover up its domestic problems including its failure to suppress the freedom struggle in Kashmir.
During her first term, Benazir Bhutto had strained relationship with the Pakistan Armed Forces, especially with Pakistan Army. Army chief Mirza Aslam Beg had cold relations with the elected prime minister, and continued to undermine her authority. As for the military appointments, Benazir Bhutto refused to appoint General Beg as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, instead invited Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey to take the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1988, Benazir Bhutto appointed Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah as the Chief of Air Staff and Admiral Jastural Haq as the Chief of Naval Staff. In 1988, shortly after assuming the office, Benazir Bhutto paid a visit to Siachen region, to boost the moral of the soldiers who fought the Siachen war with India. This was the first visit of any civilian leader to any military war-zone area since the country's independence in 1947. In 1988, Benazir appointed Major-General Pervez Musharraf as Director-General of the Army Directorate General for Military Operations (DGMO); and then-Brigadier-General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as her Military-Secretary. In 1989, the Pakistan Army exposed the alleged Operation Midnight Jackal against the government of Benazir Bhutto. When she learned the news, Benazir Bhutto ordered the arrest and trial of former ISI officer Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmad and Major Amir Khan, it was later revealed that it was General Beg who was behind this plot. General Beg soon paid the price in 1993 elections, when Benazir Bhutto politically destroyed the former general and his career was over before taking any shifts in politics. During her first term, Benazir Bhutto had successfully removed senior military officers including Lieutenant-Generals Hamid Gul, Zahid Ali Akbar Khan, General Jamal A. Khan, and Admiral Tariq Kamal Khan, all of whom had anti-democratic views and were closely aligned to General Zia, replacing them with officers who were educated in Western military institutes and academies, generally the ones with more westernised democratic views.
During her second term, Benazir Bhutto's relations with the Pakistan Armed Forces took a different and pro-Bhutto approach, when she carefully appointed General Abdul Waheed Kakar as the Chief of Army Staff. General Abdul Waheed was an uptight, strict, and a professional officer with a views of Westernized democracy. Benazir also appointed Admiral Saeed Mohammad Khan as Chief of Naval Staff; General Abbas Khattak as Chief of Air Staff. Whilst, Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan was appointed chairman Joint Chiefs who was the first (and to date only) Pakistani air officer to have reached to such 4 star assignment. Benazir Bhutto enjoyed a strong relations with the Pakistan Armed Forces, and President who was hand-picked by her did not questioned her authority. She hand-picked officers and promoted them based on their pro-democracy views while the puppet President gave constitutional authorisation for their promotion. The senior military leadership including Jehangir Karamat, Musharraf, Kayani, Ali Kuli Khan, Farooq Feroze Khan, Abbas Khattak and Fasih Bokhari, had strong Western-democratic views, and were generally close to Bhutto as they had resisted Nawaz Sharif's conservatism. Unlike Nawaz Sharif's second democratic term, Benazir worked with the military on many issues where the military disagreement, solving many problems relating directly to civil–military relations. Her tough and hardline policies on Afghanistan, Kashmir and India, which the military had backed Benazir Bhutto staunchly.
After the assassination was attempted, Benazir Bhutto's civilian security team headed under Rehman Malik, was disbanded by the Pakistan Army whose X-Corps' 111th Psychological Brigade— an army brigade tasked with countering the psychological warfare— took control of the security of Benazir Bhutto, that directly reported to Chief of Army Staff and the Prime Minister. Benazir Bhutto ordered General Abdul Waheed Kakar and the Lieutenant-General Javed Ashraf Qazi director-general of ISI, to start a sting and manhunt operation to hunt down the ringmaster, Ramzi Yousef. After few arrests and intensive manhunt search, the ISI finally captured Ramzi before he could flew the country. In matter of weeks, Ramzi was secretly extradited to the United States, while the ISI managed to kill or apprehend all the culprits behind the plot. In 1995, she personally appointed General Naseem Rana as the Director-General of the ISI, who later commanded the Pakistan Army's assets in which came to known as "Pakistan's secret war in Afghanistan". During this course, General Rana directly reported to the prime minister, and led the intelligence operations after which were approved by Benazir Bhutto. In 1995, Benazir also appointed Admiral Mansurul Haq as the Chief of Naval Staff, as the Admiral had personal contacts with the Benazir's family. However, it was the Admiral's large-scale corruption, sponsored by her husband Asif Zardari, that shrunk the credibility of Benazir Bhutto by the end of 1996 that led to end of her government after all.
1996 was crucial for Bhutto's policy on Afghanistan when Pakistan-backed extremely religious group Taliban took power in Kabul in September. She continued her father's policy on Afghanistan taking aggressive measures to curb the anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan. During this time, many in the international community at the time, including the United States government, viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilise Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian Republics, according to author Steve Coll.
He claims that her government provided military and financial support for the Taliban, even sending a small unit of the Pakistan Army into Afghanistan. Benazir had approved the appointment of Lieutenant-General Naseem Rana who she affectionately referred to him as "Georgy Zhukov"; and had reported to her while providing strategic support to Taliban. During her regime, Benazir Bhutto's government had controversially supported the hardline Taliban, and many of her government officials were providing financial assistance to the Taliban. Fazal-ur-Rehman, a right-wing cleric, had a traditionally deep influence on Bhutto as he convinced and later assisted her to help the regime of Taliban she established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In a reference written by American scholar, Steve Coll in Ghost Wars, he dryly put it: "Benazir Bhutto was suddenly the matron of a new Afghan faction—the Taliban."
Under her government, Pakistan had recognised the Taliban regime as legitimate government in Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to open an embassy in Islamabad. In 1996, the newly appointed Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef presented her diplomatic credentials However, in 2007, she took an anti-Taliban stance, and condemned terrorist acts allegedly committed by the Taliban and their supporters.
In 1993, Murtaza returned to Pakistan, where he gained a following within the PPP. He claimed that it was he, rather than his sister, who was the standard bearer for their father's championing of the downtrodden. On arrival, he was arrested for his part in the earlier plane hijacking and remained imprisoned for eight months. In 1995, he established his own party, the PPP (Shaheed Bhutto). Nusrat assisted him in organising Murtaza's election campaign for the Sindh provincial assembly. Bhutto was so angry with her mother's actions that she ousted her as co-chair of the PPP. Murtaza focused much of his criticism on Bhutto's husband Zardari, whom he blamed of being responsible for government corruption. It is reported that one incident, Murtaza invited Zardari to his house, only to have him pinned down by bodyguards and half his moustache forcibly shaved off. Not long after, Murtaza was ambushed and killed by police near Karachi. It was widely believed in Pakistan that the killing had been ordered by a senior government figure. Bhutto brought in Scotland Yard to investigate, partly to quell rumous that she had ordered the killing, although the case remained unsolved. After Murtaza's death, Bhutto re-established a relationship with her mother.
After Bhutto hinted that Leghari had been involved in her brother's death, relations between the two broke down. Leghari sought the backing of the Army Chief, Karamat, to move against her premiership. Leghari dismissed Bhutto's government on 5 November 1996. In the ensuing election, which took place in February 1997, Nawaz was re-elected.
On 20 July 1996, Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Jamaat e Islami announced to start protests against government alleging corruption. Qazi Hussain resigned from senate on 27 September and announced to start long march against Benazir government. Protest started on 27 October 1996 by Jamaat e Islami and opposition parties. On 4 November 1996, Bhutto's government was dismissed by President Leghari primarily because of corruption, who used the Eighth Amendment discretionary powers to dissolve the government. Benazir was surprised when she discovered that it was not the military who had dismissed her but her own hand-picked puppet President who had used the power to dismiss her. She turned to the Supreme Court hoping for gaining Leghari's actions unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court justified and affirmed President Leghari's dismissal in a 6–1 ruling. Many military leaders who were close to Prime minister rather than the President, did not wanted Benazir Bhutto's government to fall, as they resisted the Nawaz Sharif's conservatism.
Criticism against Benazir Bhutto came from the powerful political spectrum of the Punjab Province and the Kashmir Province who opposed Benazir Bhutto, particularly the nationalisation issue that led the loss of Punjab's privatised industries under the hands of her government. Bhutto blamed this opposition for the destabilisation of Pakistan. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Jehangir Karamat at one point intervened in the conflict between President and the Prime Minister, and urged Benazir Bhutto to focus on good governance and her ambitious programme of making the country into a welfare state, but the misconduct of her cabinet ministers continued and the corruption which she was unable to struck it down with a full force. Her younger brother's death had devastating effect on Benazir's party and policies. At one point, Chairman of Joint Chiefs General Jehangir Karamat noted that:
In my opinion, if we have to repeat of past events then we must understand that Military leaders can pressure only up to a point. Beyond that their own position starts getting undermined because the military is after all is a mirror image of the society from which it is drawn.
Newly re-elected, Nawaz moved quickly to curtail the powers of the presidency and judiciary. He also removed the constitution's Eighth Amendment which had been used by successive presidents to oust both himself and Bhutto from office. In 1998, Bhutto left Pakistan and settled into a self-exile in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates. She decided on Dubai because Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, had been a longstanding friend of her family. She remained head of the PPP for the following nine years. It was from Dubai that Bhutto observed her country wage the 1999 Kargil War with India; she described the conflict as "Pakistan's biggest blunder".
Bhutto spent much of her time in exile fighting the corruption charges that were being brought against her and her husband. She also campaigned for his release from prison. Some of her close political advisers suggested that she abandon him for the sake of her political career, but she refused. In April 1999, the Ehtesab Bench of the Lahore Hugh Court convicted Bhutto and her husband in absentia, giving them a five years prison sentence each, an $8.6 million fine, and disqualifying them both from public office. Two years later a retrial was ordered after it was ascertained that undue political bias was exerted on the judges.
In October 1999, Musharraf launched a military coup which ousted Sharif from power. In April 2000 Sharif was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. At the request of the Saudi monarch, Sharif was released from prison after a year and exiled to Saudi Arabia. He was also legally disqualified from holding public office. Musharraf called both Bhutto and Sharif "useless politicians". In 2002, Musharraf amended the constitution to ban anyone serving more than two terms as Prime Minister, thus disqualifying both Bhutto and Sharif. Musharraf also consolidated power around himself; in June 2001 he appointed himself to the Presidency, holding this position alongside his positions as chief executive and chief of the army staff. It was also from Dubai that she observed the 2002 referendum through which Musharraf extended his presidential mandate for a further five years. Bhutto expressed concern that with mainstream politicians removed from Pakistan's political arena, the vacuum would be filled by Islamist extremists.
Bhutto was highly confident that her party would secure an overwhelming victory in the coming Senate elections in 1999, due to the prime minister's widening unpopularity. Controversially, when the Pakistani armed forced initiated a coup d'état, Bhutto neither criticised nor issued any comment, remaining silent on supporting General Musharraf, as Dalrymple notes. She continued to support Musharraf's coordinated arrests of the supporters and staff of Sharif. Musharraf destroyed Sharif's political presence in Sindh and Kashmir provinces. Many political offices in Sharif's constituency or district were forcibly closed and many sympathisers were jailed. In 2002, Bhutto and the MQM made a side-line deal with Musharraf that allows both to continue underground political activities in Sindh and Kashmir, and to fill the gap after Musharraf had destroyed Sharif's presence in the both provinces. The effects of the arrests was seen clearly in the 2008 parliamentary elections, when Nawaz Sharif failed to secure support back in those two provinces.
After President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Bhutto's first government on 6 August 1990 because of corruption allegations, the government of Pakistan directed its intelligence agencies to investigate. Nawaz Sharif became prime minister in the ensuing elections and intensified prosecution investigation of Bhutto. Pakistani embassies through western Europe—in France, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and Britain—were directed to investigate. Bhutto and her husband Zardari faced several legal proceedings, including a charge in Switzerland of money-landering through Swiss banks. While never convicted, Zardari spent eight years in prison on similar corruption charges. Released on bail in 2004, Zardari hinted that while in prison he was tortured; human rights groups have supported his claim that his rights were violated.
A 1998 New York Times (NYT) investigative report claims that Pakistani investigators have documents that outine a network of bank accounts, all linked to the family's lawyer in Switzerland, naming Asif Zardari as the principal shareholder. According to the NYT article, documents released by the French authorities indicate that Zardari offered exclusive rights to Dassault, a French aircraft manufacturer, to replace the aging fighter jets of the Indian Air Force in exchange for a 5% commission to be paid to a Swiss corporation he controlled. The article also said that a Dubai company received an exclusive license to import gold into Pakistan, for which it paid more than $10 million into Zardari's Dubai-based Citibank accounts. The owner of the Dubai company denied making the payments and said the documents were forged.
Bhutto maintained that the charges against her and her husband were purely political. A report by a Pakistani auditor-general (AGP) supports Bhutto's claim. It presents information suggesting that Benazir Bhutto was ousted from power in 1990 as the result of a witch hunt approved by then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The AGP report says Khan illegally paid legal advisers 28 million rupees to file 19 corruption cases against Bhutto and her husband in 1990–92.
Yet the assets held by Bhutto and her husband continue to be scrutinised and to generate speculation. Prosecutors have alleged that the couple's Swiss bank accounts contain £740 million. Zardari also bought a neo-Tudor mansion and estate worth over £4 million in Surrey, England. Pakistani investigations have tied other overseas properties to Zardari's family. These include a $2.5 million manor in Normandy owned by Zardari's parents, who had only modest assets at the time of his marriage.
Bhutto was a client of Mossack Fonseca, whose customer records were disclosed in the Panama Papers leak. 7 September 2001 London law firm Richard Rooney and Co told MF-BVI (mossack fonseca British virgin island) to create Petroline International Inc in the British Virgin Islands. Petroline International Inc is owned by Bhutto, her nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Bhutto, and her aide and head of security Rehman Malik, who later became a Senator and Interior Minister in the government of Yousaf Raza Gillani. Mossack Fonseca had declined to do business with Bhutto's first company, similarly-named Petrofine FZC, established in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). in 2000. Petrofine was "politically sensitive" they said, and "declined to accept Mrs Bhutto as a client." A United Nations committee chaired by former head of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, concluded in a 2005 investigation into abuses of the oil-for-food program that Petrofine FZC had paid US$2 million to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein to obtain US $115–145 million in oil contracts.
In 2006, the Pakistani National Accountability Bureau (NAB) accused Bhutto, Malik and Ali Jaffery of owning Petrofine. Bhutto and the PPP denied this. In April 2006 an NAB court froze assets owned in Pakistan and elsewhere by Bhutto and Zardari. The $1.5 billion in assets were acquired through corrupt practices, the NAB said, and noting that the 1997 Swiss charges of criminal money-laundering were still in litigation.
At the request of Pakistan, Interpol issued a request in 2006 for the arrest of Bhutto and her husband on corruption charges. The Bhuttos questioned the legality of the requests in a letter to Interpol. On 27 January 2007, she was invited by the United States to speak to President George W. Bush and Congressional and State Department officials.
In mid-2002 Musharraf implemented a two-term limit on prime ministers. Both Bhutto and Musharraf's other chief rival, Nawaz Sharif, had already served two terms as prime minister. She was in Dubai while the PPP contested the October 2002 general election; it received the largest number of votes but only 63 seats in the National Assembly. Musharraf agreed to release Zardari in November 2004 as a symbol of good will; following his release, Zardari travelled to Dubai to be with his wife.
Figures in the PPP alleged that Musharraf held a longstanding animosity towards Bhutto and her family because under her father, Musharraf's father has been sacked from his position, accused of involvement in a scam.
The US and UK were losing faith with Musharraf. His domestic popularity was slipping; a mid-2007 poll gave him only a 26% approval rating. In 2007, mass anti-Musharraf protests broke out in what was known as the Lawyers' Movement. Pakistan was also experiencing growing levels of violence from Islamist militants, such as the Siege of Lal Masjid. Official figures held that 8 suicide bombings took place in 2006 and 44 in 2007. The US government increasingly saw Bhutto as an important figure who could help to constrain Pakistan's domestic problems. They nevertheless wanted a power sharing deal and did not want Musharraf removed from power completely, regarding him as a vital ally in their War on Terror.
Assisted by Luis Ayala, the secretary-general of the Socialist International, in 2006 Bhutto and Nawaz began a process of reconciliation. Ayala believed that this was a prerequisite for ensuring Pakistan's transition back to democratic elections. Both where then living in London, not far from one another. Facilitated by the lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, the pair developed a joint plan of action. This entailed establishing a committee consisting of four Pakistani senators, two from the PPP and two from the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). The pair's reconciliation was formalised with the signing of a Charter of Democracy in May 2007. Henceforth, Bhutto avoided openly criticising Nawaz as she once had.
Concerned about the instability of their ally, the U.S. government pushed Musharraf to meet with Bhutto and come to an arrangement that might strengthen his legitimacy. This dialogue was also pushed for by the UK government. In January 2007, Musharraf held his first meeting with Bhutto at a hotel in Abu Dhabi. The pair underwent follow-up talks in June. As a result of their discussions, it was agreed that the Pakistani authorities would drop all charges of corruption against both Bhutto and her husband. It was also agreed that if Musharraf stepped down from his military positions and was elected as a civilian President, then Bhutto would be willing to serve under him as Prime Minister. As part of their negotiations, Musharraf also agreed to lift the ban on individuals serving more than two terms as Prime Minister. Many of Musharraf's close allies had reservations about his concessions to Bhutto.
The US' Condoleezza Rice and the UK's Jack Straw worked together to ensure a transition back to electoral democracy in Pakistan. In August 2007, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalizad, has several meetings with Bhutto in New York City. In the city, Bhutto also gave a public talk at the Council of Foreign Relations. Bhutto and Khalizad also travelled to a luncheon in Aspen, Colorado to meet with prominent U.S. political and business leaders. In October 2007, Musharraf was elected President by Pakistan's parliament. In keeping with the agreement made by Bhutto and Musharraf, the PPP representatives abstained rather than voting against Musharraf's nomination.
Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, arriving in Karachi. Musharraf was annoyed at her arrival, having requested that she only return after the election. It was widely thought that she had a strong chance of becoming the country's next Prime Minister in the 2008 national elections. She described the main problem facing her country as the clash between "moderation and extremism", and was pessimistic about her safety. Musharraf himself had survived several assassination attempts by Islamist militants, and warned Bhutto that she too would be a target. She requested that the US or UK take responsibility for her security, but they refused, and her security detail was instead organised by Musharraf.
While her cavalcade was making its way through a crowd in Karachi, two bombs went off, killing 149 and injuring 402. Bhutto herself was physically unharmed. Bhutto alleged that there were four suicide squads that had been dispatched to eliminate her and that there were key officials in the government involved in the plot; she sent a list naming these officials to Musharraf. Bhutto requested that Musharraf bring in the British Scotland Yard or U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the crime, but he refused.
Relations between the pair were further strained when Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution in November. The PPP and PML-N launched protests at Musharraf's actions. In November, Bhutto was briefly placed under house arrest. She then publicly denounced Musharraf, fearing that any association with him would damage her credibility. On 16 December, Musharraf lifted the emergency measures and then retired as army chief.
On 24 November 2007, Bhutto filed her nomination papers for January's Parliamentary elections; two days later, she filed papers in the Larkana constituency for two regular seats. She did so as former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, following seven years of exile in Saudi Arabia, made his much-contested return to Pakistan and bid for candidacy. When sworn in again on 30 November 2007, this time as a civilian president after relinquishing his post as military chief, Musharraf announced his plan to lift the Pakistan's state of emergency rule on 16 December. Bhutto welcomed the announcement and launched a manifesto outlining her party's domestic issues. Bhutto told journalists in Islamabad that her party, the PPP, would focus on "the five E's": employment, education, energy, environment, equality. The PPP's manifesto called for greater civilian oversight of, and restrictions on, the military and intelligence agencies. They also vowed to rid the intelligence services of elements driven by political or religious motives.
On 4 December 2007, Bhutto met with Nawaz Sharif to publicise their demand that Musharraf fulfill his promise to lift the state of emergency before January's parliamentary elections, threatening to boycott the vote if he failed to comply. They promised to assemble a committee that would present to Musharraf the list of demands upon which their participation in the election was contingent.
On the morning of 27 December, Bhutto met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In the afternoon, she gave a speech at a PPP rally held in Rawalpindi's Liaquat National Bagh. On leaving in a bulletproof vehicle, she opened the car's escape hatch and stood up to wave to the surrounding crowds. A man stood within two to three metres of the car, fired three gunshots at her, and detonated a suicide vest packed with ball bearings. Bhutto was fatally injured; reports differ as to whether she was hit by bullets or by shrapnel from the explosion. Bhutto was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital, but was clinically dead on arrival and attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful. No autopsy was conducted, and the body was swiftly transported to Chaklala Air Base. The following day, she was buried next to her father in the Bhutto family mausoleum, Garhi Khuda Baksh, her family graveyard near Larkana. PPP supporters rioted in various parts of Pakistan.
Authorities claimed that the assassin had been a teenage boy from South Waziristan. They claimed to have proof that the attack had been masterminded by Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concurred that this was probable; Mehsud believed that Bhutto's pro-American and secularist agenda would undermine the Pakistani Taliban's control of South Waziristan and hinder the growth of Sunni Islamist radicalism. Mehsud denied the accusation, with al-Qaeda spokesman Mustafa Abu al-Yazid instead claiming that his organisation had carried out the killing on the order of its second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The PPP accused the government of a cover-up, with several PPP figures claiming that Bhutto had been killed by a sniper linked to the intelligence agencies. Within Pakistan there was also public speculation that the attack might have been masterminded by India, or the United States. Musharraf agreed to invite Britain's Scotland Yard to investigate the assassination. Requests for the body to be exhumed for an autopsy were rejected by Zardari.
The election was postponed from January to February 2008, and was won by a coalition established between the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League (N). The new coalition put forth Yousuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister. Musharraf, facing likely impeachment, resigned as president In August. He fled to London, although in February 2011 a Rawalpindi court issued a subpoena for him on the grounds that he had not acted on known threats to Bhutto and had provided insufficient security to protect her. In Bhutto's political will, she had designated her husband Asif Ali Zardari as her political successor but Zardari made their nineteen-year-old son, Bilawal, the Chairman of the PPP and he became co-chair of the PPP. In September 2008, Zardari was elected President of Pakistan by the country's electoral college.
As president, Zardari called for a United Nations investigation into his wife's assassination. In 2009, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established a three-person team to lead the investigation comprising the Chilean Heraldo Muñoz, Irish Peter FitzGerald, and Indonesian Marzuki Darusman. Although it was not in the commission's remit to identify a culprit, Muñoz later expressed the view that the assassination was likely carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, perhaps with the support of Mehsud, and that they may well have been assisted by rogue elements in the country's intelligence agencies. He also expressed the view that the original police investigation had been deliberately botched. In February 2012, the Pakistani official enquiry issued its final report, placing responsibility for the attack with 27 different militant groups. In May 2013, the state's main prosecutor in the Bhutto case, Zulfikar Ali, was himself assassinated in Islamabad. There was never a smoking gun in the Bhutto investigation. Many in Pakistan had reasons for wanting Bhutto dead; her killing was advantageous to both the military establishment and to the Islamic fundamentalists who despised her.
Bhatia described Bhutto as having "liberal convictions" and a "self-evidently progressive outlook". Bhutto regarded herself as an ardent supporter of women's rights, and took a hard stance against militant Islamism. Although she had to compromise with Pakistan's powerful Islamist lobby, she favoured a secular government for the country. Under Bhutto's leadership, the PPP was officially secular, as were the governments which she led. She admired the Thatcherite economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom. She advocated for the creation of an expanded economically and politically stable middle-class in Pakistan, believing that this was needed in order to sustain a stable democratic state.
Bhutto described her main role model as Fatimah, the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, stating that she admired her piety, wisdom, and courage. She also described the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a political inspiration. Lamb described Bhutto at being skilled in using populist strategies in election campaigns.
According to Bhutto biographer Shyam Bhatia, Bhutto had a desire to be liked and to be popular, and for this reason "was prepared to be all things to all people", having a "chameleon-like" quality to blend into her environment. He for instance noted that while in Pakistan she presented herself as a conservative Muslim who always wore her head covered, while as a student in Oxford she adopted a more liberal lifestyle, tending to wear a T-shirt and jeans and occasionally drinking wine. Muñoz concurred, describing Bhutto as "a woman of contradictions". As a politician, she was conscious of how her image was presented in Pakistan; she dressed modestly, was never photographed with a glass lest it be interpreted as containing alcohol, and would refuse to shake men's hands.
The Islamic studies scholar Akbar S. Ahmed, who went to school with Bhutto, noted that she was a "pampered and precocious" child. Bhatia claimed that at Oxford, where he first met her, Bhutto was spoilt, self-obsessed, and prone to throwing temper tantrums, although at the same time was humourous and generous, willing to pay for her friends' meals whenever at a restaurant.
Having encountered her later in life, Muñoz regarded Bhutto as a "charming and intelligent" woman. Ahmed stated that "her father's charisma easily transferred to her." The journalist Christina Lamb noted that Bhutto shared her father's charisma and arrogance, and was also impatient of criticism in a manner similar to him. Lamb also believed that in being raised in a wealthy and aristocratic family, Bhutto was unable to appreciate the struggles of Pakistan's poorest.
Close friends called her "BB" or "Pinkie", the latter being the childhood nickname given her by her parents. Bhutto was devoted to her father and husband. In later life, she increasingly came to see success through the prism of her family. She had a love of French and Italian cuisine.
On returning to Pakistan in the 1980s, Bhutto's mother organised for her to marry the businessman Asif Ali Zardari. Many of her friends were surprised that Bhutto acquiesced to an arranged marriage given her liberal attitudes, however she later related that she "felt obligations to my family and my religion" to go through with it and that her high public profile made it difficult for her to find a husband through other means.
On 18 December 1987, Bhutto married Asif Ali Zardari in an arranged marriage at Karachi. The couple had three children: a son, Bilawal and two daughters, Bakhtawar and Aseefa. When she gave birth to Bakhtawar in 1990, she became the first modern head of government to give birth while in office.
Muñoz described her as "one of Pakistan's most important political figures, a respected world leader, and the leading stateswoman in the Islamic world". Ahmed stated that she was one of very few political leaders who had been able to "assume the iconic status of a political martyr in the West while simultaneously evoking strong sentiments in the Muslim world." He therefore contrasted her with contemporaries like Iraq's Saddam Hussein who were popular domestically but hated in the West, and those like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak who curried favour with Western governments while alienating their domestic audience. Comparisons were often made between Bhutto and the Filipino exile-come-political leader Corazon Aquino.
Within the Islamic world, Bhutto was often regarded as "a genuine Muslim political leader" and recognised as the leader of Pakistan's most popular political party. At the same time there were many Pakistanis who despised her, disliking her popularity, her ties to Western nations, and her modernising agenda. Extremist Sunni Islamist elements opposed her leadership because they believed it wrong for a woman to lead an Islamic society, and because they believed that she was in reality a Shia. She gained popularity in Western nations in part because she could present herself as being "part of their world", speaking a high standard of English and having been educated at Harvard and Oxford. In the West, her supporters sometimes had doubts about her ability to govern, but they generally viewed her as a progressive figure who could advance democracy and counter-terrorism in Pakistan.
Commenting on her legacy, William Dalrymple writes that "it's wrong for the West simply to mourn Benazir Bhutto as a martyred democrat since her legacy was far murkier and more complex". Despite her western and positive image in the world, Bhutto's controversial policies and support have made her legacy much more complicated. Benazir Bhutto failed to revert the controversial Hudood Ordinance — a controversial presidential ordinance which suppressed women's rights, making them subordinate to men. In 2009, the CBS News, described her legacy as "mixed", and commented that: "it's only in death that she will become an icon—in some ways people will look at her accomplishments through rose-tinted glasses rather than remembering the corruption charges, her lack of achievements or how much she was manipulated by other people." The Guardian, writing about Benazir, termed her "[both] a victim, as well as in part a culprit, of its [Pakistan's] chronic instability". Writing her obituary, The New York Times referred her as "a woman of grand aspirations with a taste for complex political maneuverings". Journalist Adele M. Stan published an article on The American Prospect after her death calling Bhutto "An Imperfect Feminist" and noted "Though she looked like a walking holy card, Bhutto was hardly a saint. Said to have presided over something of a kleptocracy during her two terms as prime minister, Bhutto also, for all her railing against the mullahs, cut her deals with the religious parties and supported the Taliban's rise to power in neighboring Afghanistan."
Bhutto became a global icon for women's rights. Bhutto was the first woman in the world to head a Muslim majority country, which influenced other Muslim women to follow her path.Her fight-for-right policy has influenced a number of people, including the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Her efforts and struggle to save her father and democracy remain a lasting legacy that is deeply respected among her rivals. Several universities and public buildings in Pakistan have been named after her. The Pakistani government honored Bhutto on her birthday by renaming Islamabad's airport Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Muree Road of Rawalpindi as Benazir Bhutto Road and Rawalpindi General Hospital as Benazir Bhutto Hospital. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, a member of Bhutto's PPP, also asked President Pervez Musharraf to pardon convicts on death row on her birthday in honour of Bhutto.Daughter of Destiny: An Autobiography. Simon & Schuster. March 1989. ISBN 978-0061672682.
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West. HarperCollins. 2008. ISBN 978-0-06-156758-2.