Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to run any Muslim country globally, popularly known as “Daughter of East”. She was also one of South Asia’s most influential leaders.  

Benazir Bhutto was born in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 21, 1953, as the eldest child of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. After finishing her early education in Pakistan, she went to the United States for higher education. 

When an army general, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, overthrew her father and imprisoned him, her political education became overdrive. She was only 24 years old at the time. Ms. Bhutto paid him several visits while he was in prison. Her father urged her to learn more about other women icons, such as Indira Gandhi and Joan of Arc. 

After being suspected of plotting the murder of a political enemy, Mr Bhutto was hanged in 1979. It was prohibited for Ms. Bhutto to attend his funeral. She and her mother soon led her father’s People’s Party. Ms. Bhutto, on the other hand, spent half of her time in prison or under house arrest, often in solitary confinement, as the opposition to a military dictatorship. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister: 

When the plane carrying the ruling general Zia ul-Haq mysteriously dropped from the sky in 1988, much of the country rejoiced, and elections were called. Ms Bhutto seizes her opportunity, campaigns like the “daughter of Pakistan,” and, at 35, reclaim the prime ministership. On December 1, 1988, she became the first female prime minister of a Muslim country. 

During her tenure as Prime Minister, she was called the “Iron Lady” for her firm negotiating style with trade unions. 

Assassination: 

On December 27, 2007, Ms. Bhutto was assassinated during an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi when an assassin fired shots and detonated a bomb. In addition to the 28 people killed, at least another 100 people were injured in the attack. The assailant struck just minutes after Bhutto delivered a speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Rawalpindi, a garrison city eight miles south of Islamabad. According to a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, she died after striking her head on a portion of her vehicle’s sunroof, not from gunshots or shrapnel. President Musharraf said he had invited a team of investigators from Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom to help with the inquiry into Bhutto’s assassination. 

A frail woman who had witnessed the agony of living through the deaths of her idealized father and her exiled brother, spent over five years in prison, later witnessed her second brother’s death during her own government, and was eventually killed by terrorists herself. 

Benazir Bhutto’s reputation is deeply polarizing. Her accomplishments have been celebrated as a victory for Muslim women and the global battle against extremism. Her contributions and struggles to promote democracy have left an enduring legacy highly regarded by her opponents. Benazir Bhutto’s name is on many colleges, and public buildings in Pakistan, and her work inspired several activists, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. 

“You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.”  Benazir Bhutto  

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