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Summary Article: Bhutto, Benazir from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Pakistani centre-left politician, prime minister 1988–90 and 1993–96. She was leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) from 1984, a position she held in exile until 1986. In 1990 the opposition persuaded President Ghulam Ishaq Khan to remove her as prime minister on the grounds of alleged corruption. She was re-elected prime minister in 1993 but was removed in 1996 by President Farooq Leghari, again under suspicion of corruption. In 1999, while living in self-imposed exile in London, Bhutto (and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari) was found guilty of corruption and given a five-year prison sentence, but in April 2001 Pakistan's Supreme Court quashed the convictions and ordered a retrial. Despite her exile and outstanding corruption charges, she remained an influential figure in Pakistani politics, and, following talks in July 2007 with president and army chief, Pervez Musharraf, to discuss a possible power-sharing arrangement, she returned to Pakistan in October 2007. She began campaigning as the leading opposition candidate, but two weeks before the general election, on 27 December 2007, she was assasinated at a political rally in Rawalpindi.

When martial law was lifted, she returned to Pakistan in April 1986 and, after the unexpected death in August 1988 of the military dictator Mohammad Zia ul-Haq in an aircrash, became the first female leader of a Muslim state in November 1988. In August 1990, she was removed from office by presidential decree on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Bhutto returned to office after the October 1993 general election, following a power struggle between President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. She was removed from office again in November 1996 by President Farooq Leghari, amidst increasing concern over government corruption. In November 2000, following General Musharraf's seizure of power the previous year, her supporters joined with those of her former opponent Nawaz Sharif and 15 smaller parties to form the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, to campaign against military rule in Pakistan.

Born into a wealthy, feudal, land-owning Shia Muslim family, Bhutto was educated at Harvard and Oxford universities. She returned to Pakistan in 1977 but was placed under house arrest after General Zia ul-Haq seized power from her father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged in 1979. On her release she moved to the UK and became, with her mother Nusrat, the joint leader in exile of the opposition PPP until her return in 1986. During her first period as prime minister, she freed political prisoners, restored civil rights, tried to improve Pakistan's relations with India, and led her country back into the Commonwealth in 1989. She claimed the charges of corruption brought against her (and her husband) in 1990 were fabricated to persuade her to leave Pakistan and abandon politics. Her party was defeated in the October 1990 general election. In her second period as prime minister, she compromised, supporting a large military budget while trying to foster greater social reform. However, in addition to the further charges of corruption, she faced a great deal of criticism from opposition parties for not curbing ethnic and religious violence, and the PPP endured a crushing defeat in the February 1997 general election. The same year, her husband was jailed, charged with murdering Benazir's estranged brother, Murtaza, and the government secured the freezing of four Swiss bank accounts belonging to Benazir Bhutto's family members.

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Bhutto, Benazir

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