Benazir Bhutto controversy

Legacies and Controversies of Benazir Bhutto

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Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the early 1980s until her assassination in 2007.

A touch of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime’s story:

“Addressing the joint session of the National Assemble and the Senate on April 28th 1977 he observed: Is it a secret that in the past few months, foreign currency has flooded Pakistan; so much of it has come that I can find no parallel for this influx. The rate of the dollar in Karachi, as a result, has gone down to seven rupees, to six rupees. The money is being used to bribe people to do various things; they are being bribed to go to jail, they are being bribed to give azaans (the Muslim call to prayer), many postmen, milkmen and meter-readers are being bribed to distribute anti-PPP literature. Dollars have been dished about. My party members have been bringing this to my notice. But I did not rush out to protest.” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

It is a devastating self-indictment of the regime.  The White Paper offers a lame excuse for the insatiable appetite of the Generals to spread their tentacles throughout Baluchistan by stating that in spite of Rao Rashid’s reservations about the role of the army in civil affairs, “it is a matter of record that Mr. Bhutto’s did not follow a policy of gradual withdrawal of the army in Baluchistan.” This is adding insult to injury. On a number of occasions I pressed for a withdrawal plan but on each occasion I was requested to extend the period for a few more months. That is the truth, the genuine and historical record, as opposed to the fable invented by this regime. (Piece from ‘If I am assassinated by Z. A. Bhutto)

After her father Zulfiqar Bhutto execution in 1979 during the rule of the military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir 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 ending of martial law and soon became the foremost popular figure in the political opposition to Zia. President Zia died in August 1988 in a mysterious plane crash, creating a power space at the center of Pakistani politics. In the ensuing elections, Bhutto’s PPP won the largest majority of seats in the National Assembly. She became prime minister on December 1, 1988, heading a government of coalition.

Because of Pervaiz Musharraf’s 2002 decree banning PM from serving a third term, Bhutto was not allowed to contest for elections that same year. Additionally, legislation in 2000 that prohibited a court-convicted individual from holding party office hindered her party, as Bhutto’s unanimously elected leadership would have excluded the PPP from participating in elections. In response to these obstacles, the PPP split, registering a new, legally distinct branch called the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP). Legally separate and free from the restrictions brought upon the PPP by Bhutto’s leadership, the PPPP participated in the 2002 elections, in which it proceeded to earn a strong vote. However, Bhutto’s terms for cooperation with the military government—that all charges against her and against her husband be withdrawn—continued to be denied. In 2004 Bhutto’s husband Asif Zardari was released from prison on bail and joined Bhutto in exile. Just before the 2007 elections, talk began to circulate of B. Bhutto’s return to Pakistan.

Just before Musharraf’s re-election to the presidency, amid unresolved discussions of a power-sharing deal between Bhutto and Musharraf’s military regime, he finally granted Bhutto a long-sought amnesty for the corruption charges brought against her by the Nawaz Sharif administration. The Supreme Court challenged Musharraf’s right to grant the amnesty, however, criticizing it as unconstitutional; nevertheless, in October 2007 Benazir Bhutto returned to Karachi Pakistan from Dubai after 8 years of exile that was self-imposed. Celebrations marking her return were marred by a suicide bomb attack on her motorcade, in which more than 100 supporters were killed. B. Bhutto was assassinated in December 27, in a similar pattern attack while campaigning for 2008 parliamentary elections.

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