At the age of 35, Benazir Bhutto became the youngest Chief Executive in the world and the first female Prime Minister in the Muslim world.
From 1977 to 1988, as a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Ms. Bhutto waged a relentless struggle for the restoration of democracy and human rights in her country. She has been imprisoned for many years, and was then sent into exile. From exile, she guided the resistance to the military regime in Pakistan, mobilizing world public opinion. She returned from exile to Pakistan in 1986.
After the death of Pakistani Dictator General Zia-al-Haq in August 1988, Benazir Bhutto led her party to a sweeping electoral victory in November and was sworn in as Prime Minister. She guided the people of Pakistan from near anarchy to the management of democracy, acting forcefully to restore constitutional freedoms. Aster just twenty months in office, her government was unconstitutionally dismissed. Undeterred, she led the opposition in the National Assembly for three years until she was reelected on October 16, 1993.
During the next 36 months, Ms. Bhutto's government built over 24,000 primary and secondary schools. She electrified almost all villages across the four provinces, privatized and deregulated most of the major industries in the country and brought the modern information age to Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto worked closely with the United States on anti-terrorism, drug interdiction, illegal immigration and U.S. currency counter fitting. Her government was dismissed once again on November 5, 1995. Ms. Bhutto now serves at the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party in opposition to the National Assembly.
Former Prime Minister Bhutto was born in 1953 in Karachi. She was educated at Radcliffe College at Harvard University and also at Oxford University, where she completed Oxford's diploma course in International Law and Diplomacy. She is married to Senator Asif Ali Zardar and has three children.
NOTE: This biography is as it appeared in the Program for our Global Issues, Global Views
Forum on December 4, 1999.
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