The Rise And Fall Of Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto | NowThis World

Just over 10 years ago, one of Pakistan’s most-iconic leaders was assassinated as she was preparing to run for office Her fight for democracy and liberalization, in an extremely conservative society, inspired many people in Pakistan and around the world

But her story isn’t simply one of progress — it’s also one of turmoil Hey guys, I’m Judah and today we’re looking back at the life and tragic death of Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto Benazir was born into a politically active family in Karachi Her grandfather was a feudal lord that helped pave the way for Pakistan to become an autonomous state for south asian muslims Her father, Zulfikar Bhutto, served as president of Pakistan and in 1973 became the nation’s first democratically elected Prime Minister

So Benazir was exposed to the world of politics from a very early age In college she went on to study government and law at Harvard and Oxford This is where she began shaping her own world view — one that focused on democratic principles, liberalization, and women’s rights After graduating from Oxford in 1977, Benazir returned home to Pakistan Her father was still Prime minister, but not for long

In July of that year, a military general, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who was appointed by her father, staged a coup and declared martial law He placed Zulfikar Bhutto under arrest and his family under house arrest The military action would later be referred to at “Operation Fair Play” The general became president, and by many accounts, turned the government into a brutal military dictatorship In 1979, things got even worse

The former Prime Minister Bhutto, was convicted of ordering the murder of his political opponents, accusations his party and family still deny He was hanged by the government in April of 1979 Benazir, 26 years old at the time, and her mother both continued to work to fight for democracy after his death — but it would be a long fought battle Her mother, became the new leader of the Pakistan People’s Party They focused their attention on calling out the military government, while creating their own political platform

“If the Pakistan People's Party was given a chance we would naturally take measures, socio-economic measures which we feel would be for the well-being of our people We would concentrate on economic, we would concentrate on literacy, and we would try to mend and make, we would try to mend the mistakes of the military regime and build bridges which can take our people on to a better society A happier society One where there are fundamental human rights and a person has self-respect and dignity” In 1984, after being detained several times, Benazir returned to the United Kingdom where she became the party’s leader in exile

Two years later, she returned to Pakistan with clear goals in mind — she wanted the dictatorship that killed her father to come to an end, and she wanted free and fair elections to take place in Pakistan She began campaigning for nationwide elections that year As this was all happening, in late 1987, she agreed to an arranged marriage, to Assif Ali Zardari And she stayed on the campaign trail Then in August 1988, months before elections were held, a mysterious plane crash killed the nation’s dictator, general Muhammad Zia

The unexpected event paved the way for the popular PPP to rise to power The group selected Benazir to become the nation’s next Prime Minister The move was historic She became not only the first female leader of Pakistan, but the first elected female leader of a muslim nation anywhere Her party promised to run the country on lines of socialist principles and to improve the lives of women by repealing laws that restricted their freedom

But as Benazir quickly learned, gaining power and being in power were two different challenges Although her party won a majority of seats in parliament, they still faced a significant conservative opposition that made legislative moves difficult Her government wasn’t able to pass any legislation in her first 14 months in office other than a budget On top of not being able to deliver on campaign promises, her party’s government stank with corruption scandals After coming to power, one of the PPP’s first acts was to bribe and threaten legislators in Punjab to target Bhutto’s main opposition — Nawaz Sharif

Sharif was a government official who had close ties to the former dictatorship Remember that name Accusations of corruption also swept through her cabinet and were even made against her husband, who became known as “Mr Ten Percent” — for allegedly extorting that percentage from people seeking to do business with the government Only two years after coming to power, Bhutto’s government was dismissed by the president over the alleged rampant corruption and her husband spent two years in prison

Her opponent, Nawaz Sharif, who I mentioned earlier, campaigned on an “anti-corruption” platform and became Prime Minister after her dismissal For the most part, she managed to hold on to her popularity even as she defended herself from misconduct charges in court But in 1993, she would get her chance again Prime Minister Sharif would be dismissed for his own corruption scandals that year And Benazir once again became Prime Minister of Pakistan

This time, by a much thinner margin She didn’t have a working majority in the parliament and again was still unable to achieve much, even in her second term She also had to significantly raise taxes in the country to repay its huge debt to the International Monetary Fund The tax increases made the public discontent Then, another corruption scandal involving her husband, shook her administration

In 1996, she was dismissed from office and Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, became Prime Minister again Bhutto left Pakistan in self-imposed exile as she faced corruption charges In 1999, while still away from Pakistan, she was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison During this time another military coup ousted Prime Minister Sharif General Pervez Musharraf became the new leader of Pakistan

According to experts another brutal dictatorship had established itself After the September 11th attacks in 2001, the dictatorship became an ally to the US’s war on terror But as the years went on, Musharraf faced pressure from the U

S and others to restore democracy in Pakistan Another opportunity had presented itself for Benazir In 2007, the General signed an amnesty deal that would allow Benazir to return to Pakistan after more than 8 years in exile She was seen as the west’s favored candidate to restore democracy in the country

But because of her support for the US’s war on terror, and her liberal positions, she became a target of extremism in the country When she returned, a suicide bomber attacked her homecoming rally Nearly 140 were killed in the attack, but Bhutto managed to survive

Bhutto remained defiant and continued to campaign for democracy, despite the threat But she didn’t survive for too much longer After leaving a rally, Bhutto emerged from the top of her bomb-proof vehicle to wave to her supporters Moments later she was shot at close range and then a bomb went off She was taken to the hospital, but later died from her wounds

Mystery has surrounded her death nearly a decade later There have been many conspiracy theories but all that we do know for sure, is that someone wanted her voice silenced As we saw with Benazir Bhutto’s story, iconic world leaders can often have complicated histories So what do you think of Bhutto’s legacy? What impact do you think she had on Pakistan and even the world? Let me know in the pinned comment below! Thanks watching NowThis World! And please don’t forget to like and subscribe!

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