Pakistani politician became the first female leader of a Muslim nation in modern history. She served two terms as prime minister of Pakistan, from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996.
Bhutto was the daughter of the politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was the leader of Pakistan from 1971 until 1977. She was educated at Harvard University (B.A., 1973) and subsequently studied philosophy, political science and economics at the University of Oxford (B.A., 1977).
After her father’s execution in 1979 during the rule of the military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, Bhutto became the titular head of her father’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and endured frequent house arrest from 1979 to 1984.
In exile from 1984 to 1986, she returned to Pakistan after the lifting of martial law and soon became the foremost figure in the political opposition to Zia.
President Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash, leaving a power vacuum at the center of Pakistani politics. In the ensuing elections, Bhutto’s PPP won the single-largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly. She became prime minister on Dec. 1, 1988, heading a coalition government.
It’s a sad day for women in politics. Pakistan’s opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today by a suicide bomber. The Middle East’s first female leader and one of the leaders on Antigone’s current cover page, Bhuto was a powerful force in Pakistanian politics. She had just returned to the country from exile and had already been a target of attacks. Already, there is talk that her death is the result of neglect by the current Pakistanian administration to provide her with proper security to keep her safe. Fox News has a biography of the leader: