Historical Biography on Benazir Bhutto

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“Democracy is necessary to peace and to undermining the forces of terrorism.” This is a quote said by a leader, Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was a female politician who defeated the odds. She had to face many struggles and try to overcome them. In this paper you will learn about Bhutto’s personal life, goals she set for her and for her own country, and the sheer will power Bhutto.

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It all started in Karachi, Pakistan, where Benazir Bhutto was born. She was born on June 21, 1953. Her parents were Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nusrat Bhutto. They were both public figures when she was born, her father being a Pakistani politician who later became Pakistan’s 9th Prime Minister and her mother being a senior member of the Federal Cabinet. Benazir Bhutto had three other siblings, she was the oldest. Her siblings were Shahnawaz, Murtaza, and Sanam Bhutto.

Benazir Bhutto had a privileged childhood, education was very important to her family. Her parents took many business trips during her childhood because of her father having many jobs in the government. Benazir went to many Catholic schools in Pakistan as a child, even though her family followed the Muslim religion. Because she went to a Catholic school she was tutored at home, learning about Arabic and the Muslim faith.

After finishing school in Pakistan she continued her schooling in America. At the age of sixteen she attended Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at school she earned a degree in government. She went to Radcliffe College from 1969 to 1973. After finishing her degree in government she wanted to get more schooling, for this she also attended Oxford St Catherine’s College. At Oxford she also earned a second degree in 1977.

Benazir Bhutto’s father was very involved in the Pakistani government. Her father was the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, Benazir later took charge after her father’s death. Bhutto was the first woman ever elected to lead a Muslim state. A female leader was and still is very uncommon, especially in a Muslim country. For many people she was a leader who stood up for her people, their hopes and wishes were her hopes and wishes. Benazir knew what her people wanted and she always tried to do the best for her people and her country. That is why so many people supported her. She was elected prime minister on two occasions.

As I have previously mentioned, Benazir Bhutto was the first Pakistani women to run for anything in government. When Benazir first started her campaign it gave a lot of women hope. Her actions and decisions made her a great symbol for women empowerment. Most Muslim women do not get such an education that Bhutto had. Benazir was the first elected women to lead a Muslim nation. Benazir had plenty of intelligence, beauty, and charm says the American Prospect. (http://prospect.org/article/benazir-bhutto-imperfect-feminist ) With all of those qualifications she was more than able to lead a nation. Benazir stood for education for women, employment for women, and equality for women.

Benazir Bhutto was a very popular spokesmen. Benazir spoke out many times, she also did many public speeches. She was taught how to do public rallies by her father. Benazir Bhutto had a very distinct style when it came to her speeches. She was known to “send the message home.” She was always very motivating and able to touch the hearts of the people listening to her. One of her most famous speeches was her last. She delivered her last speech at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi.

While in charge Bhutto went through many struggles, one of the hardest being Muhammad Zia ul-Haq. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq was the man who overthrew her father and imprisoned him leading to her father’s death in 1970. Along with causing her father’s death he also had a part in sending Benazir to prison and putting her under house arrest. At one point in her life Benazir Bhutto had to flee her country for eight years, where she settled in London. That is after she was imprisoned for five years because of her father’s tormentors. Most of the five years were spent in solitary confinement. After fleeing her country she still continued to fight for what she thought was right, this even included her and her two brothers founding an underground organization that resisted military dictatorship.

Benazir Bhutto was imprisoned multiple times while she was in politics. At one point she was sentenced to five years. Her husband was also sentenced, both for corruption. Her husband Asif Ali Zardari was facing the charge of the murder of Benazir Bhutto’s brother. Her brother was killed in a gunfight that took place in Karachi. Benazir claimed that her imprisonment was a way to get her out of the government, to get her out of the countries politics.

Benazir was sent to a prison in Sukkur. While in prison she heard little about what was happening in Pakistan. One day a nice guard gave her a newspaper that had an article about a group called Al-Zulfikar who hijacked an airplane demanding that General Zia free thousands of Pakistani political prisoners. Benazir was shocked about the news, but even more shocked when she found out some of her family members were apart of the organization. Bhutto’s life in jail was not very pleasant. Benazir was not allowed to get visitors at all .She only had the clothes she had on when she was arrested. The jail cell she stayed in had windows on every side, making the nights very cold. Guards stood around her cell with machine guns. Bhutto often got very sick. She had frequent skin rashes and multiple earaches. Her hair even started falling out. Even though the odds were stacked against her she kept a smile on her face, just like her father did. She tried to stay brave.

Occasionally she would receive letters from her dear mother, Nusrat. Her mother told her to try to stay as healthy as possible. Nusrat told Bhutto to eat as many fruits and vegetables as she could. Benazir barely got food that gave her nutrients. Bhutto tried to do the best she could in the living conditions she had to face. She would try to exercise her body as well as her mind. For her body she would run in place in her small cell. The mind exercise was a little more challenging because she didn’t have any books or up to date newspapers. To keep her mind as aware as possible she would pray. She prayed all day everyday. She told herself many Pakistani people are suffering worse than she was. She realized her religious beliefs could not be taken away from her like everything else had been. Her relationship with God grew to an all time high. She prayed for the other political leaders who had been imprisoned and tortured. She prayed for her family and their health. Benazir also prayed for her release.

Her prayer had be answered. She was surprisingly allowed to leave jail for a special event, her sister was getting married! Although she only got to leave jail for three days, she was very grateful. For three days Benazir did not stop. She of course enjoyed her sister’s wedding but she was also preparing. Preparing for jail. Instead of only having the clothes she wore six months ago, she packed. Bhutto packed clothes for the winter and summer. Benazir also packed tons of newspapers, books, and, magazines. Days after returning to jail she was burdened with awful news.

General Zia extended Benazir Bhutto’s three more months. General Zia said he would release her from jail only if she stops getting into politics. Benazir refused. She pushed through another hard three months in jail. She was eventually released but then place under house arrest soon after. This time she could actually get visitors. The only visitors allowed to see her was her mother, aunt, and sister. Although she was under house arrest Bhutto was grateful to be able to see her family. Bhutto was not even allowed to leave when her mother was transported to a hospital because doctors believed she had lung cancer. It was a very scary wake up call to Bhutto and her family. So Bhutto started planning.

Benazir Bhutto had many ideas and goals for her country. She wanted to focus on Pakistan’s future, stability,security, and building political institutions. One major problem Benazir Bhutto said was “political dictatorship.” She wholeheartedly agreed that political dictatorship would lead to religious extremism.

While Bhutto was in her first term as prime minister she had to pick up the pieces of General Zia. He had left Pakistan with thousands unemployed, leaving many people extremely poor. Basic food needs were very pricy because of a recent flood. Farmers lost almost all of their crops. Another problem Benazir had to try to figure out was the amount of debt Pakistan was in. Pakistan owed many countries large amounts of money.

Benazir started small. Her number one priority was to find money for programs for the poor. She also released thousands of people General Zia had imprisoned. Another goal was to improve health by building health clinics and building schools. Building schools was one of the highest goals on Benazir Bhutto’s list. She really cared about the education of all of the young and old Pakistani people because of all the opportunities education had given her.

While Benazir was prime minister the violence and terrorism in Pakistan did not get any better. She tried many different methods to help stop the violence but again, many obstacles appeared. She had sent an army to Karachi to stop a riot without the help of the religious leaders in government. The religious leaders would not support her just because of her being a female. To add to the struggles, Benazir Bhutto had to figure out what to do with the three million Afghanistan refugees that were located on the northwest border of Pakistan. To make matters worse the PPP did not have enough votes to pass new laws. You can see where this causes a problem.

With all the difficulties Benazir Bhutto still did her best. She always was at work-almost never taking a day off. She planned many meetings trying to gain support and help from many different countries, one even including the U.S. and the president George W. Bush. During the meeting the president promised that the U.S. would help her and Pakistan. There was a catch though, if Pakistan had nuclear weapons the U.S. would not trade with them. This caused a huge problem. Pakistan’s enemy at the time was India. India had nuclear weapons which put fear in many of the Pakistani people. Most people felt they needed nuclear weapons for safety incase India attacked. This is yet another problem that split Pakistan in half.

Although Benazir Bhutto had many enemies, she had many allies. Every time she returned home from meetings,speeches,or being exiled she had many supporters. Crowds of supporters would greet her when she arrived. Roads and streetways would be blocked and businesses would be shut down. Although many people agreed with her, others did not. In 2007 Benazir Bhutto survived her first assassination attempt. More than one hundred supporters and bystanders died in the tragic event.

Pakistan had national elections coming up in 2008. Benazir Bhutto and the PPP were prepared to win another victory once again which would make Bhutto Prime Minister for yet another time. Weeks before the voting was going to take place another attack happened. Another extremist striked again. A gunman fired at her car and then blows himself up with a self destructive bomb. Bhutto was killed by a bullet to the neck. She later died in a hospital. Twenty bystanders also died at the event. Not long after chaos erupted through the country. Riots were happening all over because of the loss of the popular leader. Memorial services and funerals were taking place. Many people attended these services, people from all over the world.

Her son would later take her place. In her testament she said her son would take her place if anything was to ever happened to her. Benazir Bhutto’s son was named Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He was in school at Oxford when everything happened. He was just nineteen years old when was supposed to take the position of his mom. It was later agreed that his father Asif would be chairmen of the PPP while Bilawal finished his studies. The PPP won the election in 2008, beating their enemy Nawaz Al-Sharif. Yousaf Rama Gillani was a member of the PPP and took the place as prime minister. Later that year the president resigned, making Asif Ali Zardari Pakistan’s president.

Although Benazir Bhutto did not live to see the results of what she started, she left a huge mark on people all over the world. Bhutto impacted many known people today including Malala Yousafzai. (Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize.) Benazir Bhutto will always be remembered as a great leader, as well as a great person. Her actions have been celebrated by Muslim women and women all around the globe. She will be remembered for her fight against Islamic extremism and her fight for her people. The people of Pakistan will remember her for fight for the poor and the fight against the military dictatorship which took place in their government.

To conclude, Benazir Bhutto tried to do what was right for Pakistan. She set many goals for herself, some being very successful and some not being able to get accomplished. The PPP is still present in Pakistani politics. While she was prime minister she helped with Pakistan’s future. Bhutto presented many bright ideas that she wished would help Pakistan. Her efforts helped with basic human rights, culture, social life, and political problems in Pakistan. Life in Pakistan changed for the best while she was there. Education and life for the poor improved while she was in office. Ultimately she improved the life of the Pakistani people. Benazir was an amazing person and a woman of courage. Throughout her life she went through many political and personal struggles and overcame them. She consistently fought for what she thought was right even if it was hard for her. Benazir Bhutto was a natural born leader. She had courage to stand up to powerful men in a Muslim country, she tried to tackle the problems of her people, she was fearless, and continually bold.

Sources Cited

  1. Islamabad, Richard Galpin in. “Benazir Bhutto given Five-Year Jail Term and £5m Fine for Corruption.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Apr. 1999, www.theguardian.com/world/1999/apr/16/benazirbhutto.
  2. Ahmed, Ashfaq. “Benazir Bhutto Remembered in Dubai.” GulfNews, Gulfnews, 29 Oct. 2018, gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/benazir-bhutto-remembered-in-dubai-1.1850722.
  3. “Benazir Bhutto.” Academy of Achievement, www.achievement.org/achiever/benazir-bhutto/.
  4. “Benazir Bhutto – When I Return to Pakistan.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 Sept. 2007, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/19/AR2007091901705.html?noredirect=on.
  5. Ahmed, Ashfaq. “Benazir Bhutto Remembered in Dubai.” GulfNews, Gulfnews, 29 Oct. 2018, gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/benazir-bhutto-remembered-in-dubai-1.1850722.
  6. “Benazir Bhutto: An Imperfect Feminist.” The American Prospect, prospect.org/article/benazir-bhutto-imperfect-feminist.   
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Historical Biography on Benazir Bhutto. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from
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