Daughter of the East: A glimpse into Benazir's life and achievments

Daughter of the East: A glimpse into Benazir's life and achievments


Benazir Bhutto, born on 21 June 1953, was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan and the leader of the centre-left Pakistan People's Party(PPP). She was the first woman to head a Muslim majority nation.

 

Benazir obtained her higher education at the universities of Harvard and Oxford where she served as the first Asian woman to preside over the Oxford Union.

After the 1977 military coup which overthrew her father's government, Benazir, along with her family, was repeatedly placed under house arrest. After her father was hanged in 1979, she and her mother Nusrat, went on to lead the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy while still under house arrest.

In 1984, Benazir along with her family left for London where she resided until 1988. After her return, Benazir successfully led the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in the 1988 election. After winning support from a coalition government in the national assembly, Benazir assumed the Prime Minister's office in December 1988. This was the crowning glory of her years of effort, as she became the first female leader of a Muslim country. It was an even greater achievement considering how deeply entrenched patriarchal values were in Pakistan at the time.

However, due to the inexperience of her party members, Benazir struggled to maintain control over the government, eventually seeing her administration dismissed in 1990 by the president at the time.

However, Bhutto fought back and successfully led her party to victory in the 1993 parliamentary elections. Her second term witnessed several controversies including the assassination of her brother Murtaza during a police encounter in Karachi in 1996. The political instability created by her brother's assassination culminated in the dismissal of her government. In these tough times, she continued to lead her party in the 1997 elections though it ended in defeat. With her husband in jail and her party in disarray, she went into exile, continuing her struggle for democracy in Pakistan by directing her party's affairs from abroad.

The Daughter of the East returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007 in a renewed effort to save democracy and to fight against the dictatorship of General Musharraf.

 

On December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assasinated while leading a campaign event in Rawalpindi.

Benazir left a political legacy that is celebrated as a triumph for women in the Muslim world and is seen as an example of the power one person has for challenging and defeating the forces of patriarchy and authoritarianism.