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 BENAZIR BHUTTO

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PostSubject: BENAZIR BHUTTO   Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:39 am

Benazir Bhutto, 54,Weathered

Political Storm

By

JOHN F. BURNS
Benazir Bhutto

Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, spent three decades navigating the

turbulent and often violent world of Pakistani politics, becoming in

1988 the first woman to be democratically elected to lead a modern

Muslim country.

A deeply polarizing figure, the self-styled “daughter of Pakistan” was

twice elected prime minister and twice expelled from office amid a

swirl of corruption charges that ultimately propelled her into selfimposed

exile in London, New York and Dubai for much of the past

decade. She returned home only two months ago, defying threats to

her life as she embarked on a bid for election to a third term in office,

billing herself as a bulwark against Islamic extremism and a tribune

of democracy.

The combined bombing and shooting attack that killed her as she left

a political rally, standing through the open roof of her car to greet

milling crowds of supporters, came as Ms. Bhutto staged a series of

mass meetings across Pakistan. She did that despite her aides’

appeals for caution in the wake of a double suicide bombing that

narrowly failed to kill her on the night of her return from exile in

October. That attack, which killed more than 130 people, came as she

drove from the airport in Karachi to her home on the city’s seafront,

and provoked a characteristic response.

“We will continue to meet the public,” she said as she visited

survivors of the bombings at a Karachi hospital. “We will not be

deterred.”

When asked to explain the courage — or stubbornness, as some of her

critics saw it — that she displayed at critical junctures in her political

career, Ms. Bhutto often referred to the example she said had been

set by her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was a charismatic and often

demagogic politician who was president and prime minister from

1971 to 1977, before being hanged in April 1979 on charges of having

ordered the murder of a minor political opponent.

Mr. Bhutto was the founder in 1967 of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the

political vehicle that he, and later his daughter, rode to power. Like

his daughter, Mr. Bhutto battled for years with Pakistan’s powerful

generals. He was ousted from office, and ultimately executed, on the

orders of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, one of the long succession of

military rulers who have dominated Pakistan for nearly 40 of the 60

years since it emerged as an independent state from the partition of

British India.

Under house arrest at the time, Ms. Bhutto was allowed to visit her

father before his execution at Rawalpindi’s central prison, only a

short distance from the site of the rally where she was killed nearly

three decades later. In a BBC interview in the 1990s, she said seeing

her father preparing to die steeled her for her own political career,

which some biographers have suggested was driven, in part, by a

determination to avenge him by outmaneuvering the generals.

A History of Violence

Violence ran like a thread through her family life, to an extent that

caused her admirers to compare the Bhuttos, in the contribution they

made to Pakistan’s political life, and in the price they paid for it, to

the Kennedys — and her enemies, pointing to the Bhuttos’ bitter

family feuds, to compare them to the Borgias. The younger of Ms.

Bhutto’s two brothers, Shahnawaz, died mysteriously of poisoning in

1995, in an apartment owned by the Bhuttos in Cannes, France.

French investigators said they suspected that a family feud over a

multimillion-dollar inheritance from Zulfikar Bhutto was involved,

but no charges were filed.

Ms. Bhutto’s other brother, Murtaza, who along with Shahnawaz

founded a terrorist group that sought to topple General Zia, spent

years in exile in Syria beginning in the 1980s.When Murtaza finally

returned to Pakistan, in 1994, he quickly fell into a bitter dispute with

Ms. Bhutto over the family’s political legacy — and, he told a reporter

at the time, over the money he said his father had placed in a Swiss

bank when he was prime minister. In 1996, Murtaza was gunned

down outside his home in Karachi, and his widow, Ghinva, blamed

Asif Ali Zardari, mother, Nusrat, sided in the dispute with Murtaza, and was
dismissed by Ms. Bhutto as the Peoples Party chairman. “I had no

idea I had nourished a viper in my breast,” she said of her daughter at

the time.

Born on June 21, 1953, Ms. Bhutto, the first child in her family,

reveled in telling friends that she was her father’s favorite. One of her

most cherished anecdotes about her childhood involved her father’s

encouraging her to set aside traditionalMuslim views of a woman’s

role and to have ambitions beyond the home, a message she said he

conveyed with stories about Joan of Arc and

After attending a private Christian-run school in Karachi, where the

family maintained a luxurious mansion,Ms. Bhutto studied at

Radcliffe College, earning a Harvard B.A. in 1973, and later at Oxford,

where she gained a second B.A. in 1976. At Oxford, she was the first

woman to become president of the Oxford Union, the prestigious

debating society that nurtured several British prime ministers.

In her memoir, she described what life as a young woman at Harvard

felt like. “I was amongst a sea of women who felt as unimpeded by

their gender as I did,” she wrote. At Oxford, she adopted a

Westernized way of life, spending winters at the Swiss ski resort of

Gstaad. She said later that her passions at the time included reading

royal biographies and “slushy” romances, and browsing at the

London department store Harrods — a habit she maintained

throughout the rest of her life.

From Oxford, Ms. Bhutto was thrust abruptly into the heart of

Pakistani politics by General Zia’s arrest of her father in 1977, and by

his execution 18 months later. Ms. Bhutto wrote in her memoir of her

last meeting with her father, through a metal grille at the Rawalpindi

Prison. “But I did not cry. Daddy told me not to,” she recalled.

From that moment on, Ms. Bhutto said in later years, she resolved to

oust General Zia from power. But in August 1988, the general and the

American ambassador, Arnold L. Raphel, were killed when their

military plane exploded and crashed in southern Pakistan. Three

months later, when she was 35,Ms. Bhutto won a general election

and formed her first government, only to be ousted by Pakistan’s

president in 1990, having served less than half her term. In 1993, she

won a second election, but was again dismissed in 1996.

Her accomplishments in office were few. She claimed in later years

that she had clamped down on Islamic militants, established a strong

basis for democracy by paring away many of the restrictions on civil

liberties imposed by the generals, and provided a boost to the

economy, especially in her second term, by attracting a flow of

foreign investment. But on both occasions, she was dismissed, under

pressure from the military on charges of corruption and incompetent

governance. Her ouster, on both occasions, sparked only sporadic

protests across Pakistan.

Complexity and Contradictions

A woman of complex and often contradictory instincts, Ms. Bhutto

was a politician who presented herself on public platforms as the

standard-bearer for Pakistan’s impoverished masses, for civil liberties

and for an unfettered democracy. But she made enemies with her

imperious and impulsive manner as prime minister in dealing with

government officials, diplomats and reporters, and by what her critics

described as an instinct for political vindictiveness. She recalled how

her father taught her the importance of deceit in politics, lessons she

said she had rejected in favor of openness. But American officials

were troubled by her account of her role in Pakistan’s secret nuclear

weapons program. She maintained in recent years that the Pakistani

military had kept her in the dark about the weapons program, and

that the first she knew of it was in a CIA briefing inWashington in

1989.

In an interview two years ago for a documentary produced by The

New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Company, she said

she also did not know, when in office, that A. Q. Khan, the head of the

Pakistani nuclear program, was selling nuclear technology to other

states, including Libya and North Korea. But according to accounts

given by Dr. Khan’s associates, Ms. Bhutto, after visits to North Korea

in the 1990s, returned to Islamabad with North Korean missile

designs intended to be mated to the Pakistani bomb.

In “Daughter of Destiny,” her 1989 memoir, she rebuked reporters for

calling attention to her dress, almost always the traditional loosefitting

robe favored by Pakistani women, saying she did not care

about matters like dress. But among her aides and Pakistani

diplomats, who often accompanied her on shopping trips abroad, she

gained a reputation for buying expensive jewelry and shoes and at

elite stores in Beverly Hills, London and Paris.

Her critics often attributed her flushes of haughtiness and her

expensive tastes to a sense of entitlement, as Zulfikar Bhutto’s

daughter and as the pre-eminent member of a wealthy land-owning

family from the cotton-growing southern province of Sindh. The

egalitarian credo Ms. Bhutto preached as a politician found little echo

in the lives of the impoverished men and women, many of them

indentured workers, who worked the family’s ancestral lands.

After her second dismissal from office in 1996, a friend saidMs.

Bhutto’s sense of herself as inseparable from the fate of Pakistan

contributed to actions that led Pakistani investigators to accuse her

andMr. Zardari of embezzling as much $1.5 billion from government

accounts.

British and American private investigators working for the

government of her political rival

volume of documents tracing what they said were multimillion-dollar

kickbacks paid to the couple in return for the award of government

contracts, and a web of bank accounts across the world that were

used to hide the money. Ms. Bhutto andMr. Zardari vehemently

rejected the allegations, saying their accusers wanted to drive her

from power.

Criminal probes of the couple’s financial dealings were opened in

Britain, Spain and Switzerland, among other places. But the cases

against the couple in Pakistan languished for years in the courts, and

the cases againstMs. Bhutto were ultimately quashed by an amnesty

granted by Pakistan’s president,

American-brokered deal that cleared the way forMs. Bhutto to return

to Pakistan in the fall to participate in elections thatMr. Musharraf

set for January.

The American bid to restore her to power in Islamabad reflected her

tireless efforts to maintain a network of the powerful among the

political media elite inWashington and in London.

Among her friends,Ms. Bhutto’s marriage to Mr. Zardari, who was in

Dubai when she was killed, was seen as central to understanding

much that went awry in her life in the years after her father was

hanged. The marriage in 1987 was an arranged one, in the Muslim

tradition; her mother acted as marriage broker. Mr. Zardari came

from a modest business family that owned a cinema.

Ms. Bhutto herself spoke soberly of what an arranged marriage

entailed, saying that her five years under house arrest — and, briefly,

in prison — under General Zia, had left her with little opportunity for

courtship. But friends watched with fascination as her relationship

with Mr. Zardari developed. Handsome, with a macho style thatMs.

Bhutto told friends she thought at first was ridiculous, he became an

important figure in her two governments, serving in her cabinet in

her second term in a role that gave him a major role in approving

foreign investment.

Mr. Zardari’s nickname among Pakistanis, Mr. 10 Percent, spoke for

the widespread sense that he had ledMs. Bhutto into the financial

irregularities that played an important role in her decision to go into

exile. Mr. Zardari, arrested before she left, spent eight years in jail but

never faced trial and was freed by Mr.Musharraf and eventually

allowed to leave Pakistan.Ms. Bhutto never wavered in defense of her

husband. “Time will tell he is the Mandela of Pakistan,” she said. The

couple had two sons, Bilawal and Bakhtwar, and a daughter, Aseefa.

Bilawal, 19, began studies in the fall at Oxford. The two younger

children remained with their father in Dubai.

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