[COMMUNITY] Benazir Bhutto - "Daughter of Destiny"
- Bhutto, an aristocrat who championed democracy
Entering politics after her father's death, she always believed she
was the best person to lead Pakistan.
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
She was, by her own account, a "daughter of destiny," a pampered girl
from an aristocratic Pakistani family who inherited her father's
political mantle and went on to become the Muslim world's first
female prime minister. But in the end, that destiny proved a tragic
one: Like her father, Benazir Bhutto was killed for her political
The assassin who cut short Bhutto's life on Thursday brought to a
close a remarkable biography encompassing a privileged childhood,
degrees from Harvard and Oxford, stints in jail as a political
prisoner, and mass adulation and contempt alike for her two terms as
Pakistan's prime minister. After eight years of self-imposed exile,
Bhutto, 54, had returned to her native land in October to try for a
Bhutto's triumphal return was marred from the start by violence, when
a suicide bomber struck her motorcade and killed more than 140 people
in the southern port city of Karachi.
"I have many enemies -- I'm a security target," Bhutto told The Times
in June. "But this is a most critical time for the country."
A defiant and strong-willed figure, instantly recognizable in her
trademark white scarf, Bhutto never flagged in her belief that she
was the best person to lead her nation to democracy and prosperity.
That confidence led her to declare herself "chairperson for life" of
her Pakistan People's Party and to an imperious style that rewarded
loyalists but alienated many others.
Her charisma and skillful political maneuvering were undeniable --
and sometimes masked the fact that her double stint as prime minister
was at best a mixed bag, dragged down by allegations of massive
corruption and criticism of her lavish lifestyle.
But Bhutto made an indelible mark not just on her home country but on
the international political scene, both for her gender and her
outspoken insistence on the need for Pakistan to remake itself into a
secular, liberal state.
Despite her shortcomings, "what will remain is a commitment to
democracy -- to moderate, centrist values, tolerance, a role for
women and an accommodation with India," Stephen Cohen, a South Asia
expert at the Brookings Institution, said Thursday. "She helped
create a new identity for Pakistan as a place where women could be
Anil Kalhan, a visiting professor at Fordham University School of
Law, agreed. "Certainly for women leaders she played an inspiring
role, even though she ascended to that role in a dynastic way," he
said. "She was always a very charismatic person who had a tremendous
following because of her father's legacy as a populist but also in
her own right. . . . She had people who adored her and detractors who
couldn't stand her."
Her death leaves a huge void at the top of her party, one that will
be difficult to fill in a region where personality cults reign.
Bhutto's three children, all in their teens, are too young to
continue the dynasty begun by her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who
served as president and prime minister before being deposed and
hanged by dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq.
Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953, the eldest of four children
in a well-to-do landowning family in the southern province of Sindh.
In what remains a largely feudal society, Bhutto grew up in a mansion
in Karachi with the trappings and perks of Pakistan's postcolonial,
English-speaking elite. She was attended to by an English governess,
called by her nickname, "Pinkie," and enrolled in elite Roman
From a young age, she was witness to her father's political career,
which included Cabinet posts and stints as the head of Pakistan's
delegation to the United Nations. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto delighted his
children with stories about famous historical figures such as
Napoleon and Alexander the Great, as well as with gifts of chocolates
and clothes from Saks Fifth Avenue, which bred a taste for luxury in
his eldest daughter that persisted throughout adulthood.
So sheltered was Bhutto's life that at 16, she was completely
unprepared for life at Radcliffe College, Harvard University.
"I cried and cried and cried because I had never walked to classes in
my life before," she once told an interviewer. "I'd always been
driven to school in a car and picked up in a car, and here I had to
walk and walk and walk. It was cold, bitterly cold, and I hated
it . . . but it forced me to grow up. There was this huge hall and
you had to serve yourself and sit down somewhere next to someone,
which meant I had to talk to people, and Americans are very
From Harvard, she went on to Oxford University to study politics,
philosophy and economics, an arena where she honed her skills by
becoming the first Asian woman to be elected president of the
prestigious Oxford Union debating society.
Her sights were still set on a possible career as a diplomat rather
than a politician. But soon after her return, in 1977, her father was
ousted as prime minister in a military coup and imprisoned, and
martial law was declared. Two years later, he was executed, and his
death became the defining moment in Bhutto's life, launching her full-
bore into politics.
"I told him on my oath in his death cell, I would carry on his work,"
Bhutto later said.
She paid a price for her promise. Over the next five years, with the
Pakistan People's Party outlawed, Bhutto was in and out of detention,
sometimes under house arrest, or in prison, under harrowing
conditions. In her autobiography, "Daughter of Destiny," she
recounted her experience in solitary confinement in a desert cell in
1981, where the heat was almost unbearable.
"My skin split and peeled, coming off my hands in sheets. Boils
erupted on my face. My hair, which had always been thick, began to
come out by the handful. Insects crept into the cell like invading
armies," she wrote. "I tried pulling the sheet over my head at night
to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got too hot to
She was allowed to leave Pakistan in 1984 for treatment of a serious
ear infection. She settled in London, but the Shakespearean drama of
her family's life continued with the mysterious death of one of her
two brothers, Shahnawaz, at his home on the French Riviera. Some
accounts suggested that he had been poisoned, which Bhutto believed
to be the handiwork of Pakistani agents. When Zia lifted martial law
in Pakistan in December 1985, Bhutto felt the time had come to
return. Her homecoming in April 1986, in the ancient city of Lahore,
was tumultuous, celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who
thronged the streets and forced her motorcade to slow to such a crawl
that it took 10 hours to travel eight miles.
In her elegant British-inflected accent, she called on Zia to resign,
saying that it was "a bad year for dictators" -- a reference to the
fall of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Jean-Claude "Baby
Doc" Duvalier in Haiti. The momentum of her rapturous welcome
propelled her on a national tour and then her party to victory in
elections in November 1988, months after Zia's death in a mysterious
Governance, however, proved difficult for Bhutto in both her terms as
prime minister, from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996. She was credited
with immediately ending media restrictions and speaking out for
women's rights, but she was constrained by the military and the
mullahs, Pakistan's two most powerful groups.
Although Bhutto's domestic rhetoric echoed the populism of her
father, with its promises of basic necessities for all, inflation
continued to hurt the poor and foreign debts grew. And though the
West saw her as a glamorous symbol of moderation, she was unable to
curb Islamic and ethnic militancy.
Most damaging of all were the accusations of corruption that began to
surface. Bhutto made little secret of her love of the finer things,
and she and her husband, businessman Asif Ali Zardari, lived lives
beyond the imaginings of most Pakistanis, with residences in London
and New York. The money to finance such opulence was suspected to
have come from kickbacks and other shady deals by Zardari, who was
nicknamed "Mr. 10%." Despite his unpopularity, Bhutto gave him a
Cabinet post during her second term.
The corruption allegations drove her from office and eventually the
country. Her husband spent eight years in prison, though without a
formal conviction. Investigations were opened in Britain, Spain and
Four years ago, a Swiss investigative magistrate convicted Bhutto and
Zardari of money laundering. The judge ruled that Swiss firms had
bribed the couple in return for a Pakistani government contract. But
an appeals court set aside the verdict and the investigation was open
at the time of her death.
Last month, Spanish prosecutors closed their three-year investigation
of Bhutto and Zardari, citing a lack of evidence. The British case, a
civil lawsuit by the Pakistani government involving the purchase of
Bhutto's multi-million dollar estate in England, is still pending.
Bhutto's reputation was further damaged by the fatal shooting of her
other brother, Murtaza, by police in 1996 in Karachi. Some believe
Bhutto, who was prime minister then, herself engineered, or at least
tacitly approved the killing, because he challenged her status as
party leader. Different factions within the family remain politically
at odds with each other; last month, Murtaza's daughter Fatima Bhutto
lashed out at her aunt in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, saying
that her return could mean the death of the democratic movement in
In self-exile, from her bases in London and Dubai, United Arab
Emirates, Bhutto continued to hold sway over her party, contesting
the corruption charges and traveling the world promoting her vision
of a democratic Pakistan.
"She really believed that. There's no question that her upbringing
and her background and her experience in the West was part of her
identity. That was what she stood for," said Cohen of the Brookings
Exile seemed to have mellowed her. "I found her to be thoughtful and
reflective and more willing to admit errors than she did before. I
think she matured as a politician in exile," he said. "She was 100%
politician. She worked at her job very, very hard."
Before her return to Pakistan in October, Bhutto was working on a
controversial power-sharing deal, backed by the U.S., with President
Pervez Musharraf. Her willingness to deal with an army general who
came to power in a coup and whom many of her compatriots consider a
ruthless dictator compromised her standing to some extent.
But reading the public mood, as well as Musharraf's apparent
reluctance to bend on key points, she announced last month that she
would no longer negotiate with him.
Instead, she took to campaigning for her Pakistan People's Party in
the elections scheduled for Jan. 8, hoping to recapture some of the
magic and popular acclaim that had greeted her on her first
homecoming in 1986.
At that time, she had invoked her father's spirit in words that would
prove prescient more than 20 years later.
"He told me at our last meeting at Rawalpindi jail that I must
sacrifice everything for my country," she said. "This is a mission I
shall live or die for."
Apart from her husband and their three children, son Bilawal and
daughters Bakhtawar and Asifa, Bhutto is survived by her mother,
Nusrat, and sister, Sanam.
Bhutto's death could be a turning point
The assassination, raising concerns about apparent impunity of
militants and possible complicity of intelligence agencies, could
force the Pakistani government to act decisively.
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- The circumstances of Benazir Bhutto's
assassination suggest either that Islamic militants based in Pakistan
are able to act with near-total impunity or that elements within the
government of President Pervez Musharraf have been complicit in
attacks, or both, analysts and Western diplomats say.
The government's version of events surrounding the attack Thursday
that killed the popular former prime minister raises many more
questions than it answers, these observers said. The nearly
instantaneous naming of a culprit and eagerness to assert that Bhutto
had not been shot left some observers troubled about the motives of a
government that is a trusted ally in the Bush administration's "war
The violent death of Bhutto, 54, on whom the West had pinned hopes of
a moderate, democratic Pakistan, is a watershed event in a nuclear-
armed state that faces a roiling Islamic insurgency not only in its
mostly lawless tribal border regions, but in the streets of its most
The assassination will have long-lasting repercussions not only in
Pakistan, but in neighboring Afghanistan as well, where Western
troops are battling a fractured but determined Taliban movement. Any
significant destabilization of Pakistan would carry risks for the
entire region, analysts said.
On Saturday, with mourning rites still taking place at Bhutto's
ancestral home, her party angrily contested government assertions
that she had been killed neither by bullets that witnesses said a
gunman fired from only a few yards away nor by shrapnel from the
suicide bombing that rocked her armored vehicle moments later.
Instead, a government spokesman said the force of the blast was such
that she hit her head so hard that she suffered a fatal skull
"That's dangerous nonsense," said Sherry Rehman, a senior official in
the Pakistan People's Party who was in the vehicle immediately behind
Bhutto's, accompanied her on the frantic drive to the closest
hospital and viewed her body after doctors declared her dead.
Rehman said entry and exit wounds from gunshots were visible on
Bhutto's head and neck, and that she was bleeding uncontrollably on
the way to the hospital.
Western diplomats, too, said they found the government statements
worrying in their wider implications.
"It's not only that this is not a credible account of what happened --
that's obvious on the face of it," said a diplomat familiar with
security matters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"It's that it raises questions about why the government is so
extraordinarily eager to avoid acknowledging the role of a gunman,
whether or not the wounds were fatal. At the very least, it's
puzzling," the diplomat said.
Several analysts familiar with the tactics of militant groups in
Pakistan said the use of a handgun in addition to self-detonated
explosives represented a departure from the trademark methods of
groups operating here.
"This is not by any means a signature killing by Al Qaeda," security
analyst Nasim Zehra said. "A targeted shooting, even in combination
with a familiar suicide bombing, makes it look more like a political
killing than one by some militant group."
Others, however, noted that Pakistan's militant organizations have
shown themselves capable of adapting to changing circumstances and
adjusting their methods accordingly.
"Obviously, they were studying her movements in the course of the
political campaign," said Ikram Sehgal, a former military officer
turned analyst. "Inside the rally, it was relatively secure; her
problem was entering and leaving. She was highly vulnerable at that
"It was done very professionally," Sehgal added. "It was a 'hit.' "
That degree of professionalism suggests to some experts the hand of
Pakistan's security apparatus, which has previously aided and abetted
militant groups, including the Taliban.
"The [security] agencies have ongoing connections with the
militants," said security analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, who has written
extensively about the Pakistani military. "It's very simplistic to
talk about the militants doing this and doing that, all the while
The government has pointed the finger at Baitullah Mahsud, a local
Taliban commander based in the Pakistani tribal areas bordering
Afghanistan. On Saturday, Mahsud issued a vehement denial of
involvement in the killing.
"It is against tribal customs and traditions to kill a woman,"
Mahsud's spokesman, who calls himself Maulana Omar, said by
telephone, speaking from an undisclosed location.
The government had released a transcript of a purported conversation
between Mahsud and another militant leader in which they appear to
make reference to the assassination and the second commander offered
Another Western diplomat familiar with the Pakistani security
services' extensive electronic surveillance operations said that if
the transcript was genuine, it was highly unlikely that the
eavesdropping began with this particular conversation in the
immediate aftermath of Bhutto's death.
"That raises the question: What precisely was known about his
activities and plans up until now?" the diplomat said.
Mahsud has been known to reach accommodations with the government. In
2005, he agreed to a truce in the South Waziristan region, promising
his men would not attack Pakistani soldiers, though the pact later
The government has sought to put the blame for security lapses on
Bhutto and her party, particularly her decision to stand up through
her SUV's sunroof as she left the rally. Others in the bulletproof
vehicle with her survived the bomb blast with relatively light
injuries, as did those riding in the other cars in her convoy.
But whether or not rogue elements of the security forces were
involved or there was deliberate negligence on the part of the
authorities, the attackers demonstrated a keen ability and
determination to get their target.
"I think this degree of impunity, the fact that they are able to hold
the whole country ransom and terrorize the population -- all this is
definitely a new level of threat and danger," said author and analyst
Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively about the Taliban and other
The enormous wave of popular revulsion over the assassination could
spur demands that the government end once and for all its shadowy
dealings with militant groups, some predicted.
"This is perhaps the only thing that could come out of this, if
people stand up and realize that the extremists are very much among
us," said Omar Qureishi, the op-ed editor of the English-language
paper the News. "There have been alliances in the past, but a line
should be drawn: no dealings with them in any way."
The government has promised an exhaustive investigation, but as it
did following an attack in Karachi on Bhutto's homecoming procession
in October that killed more than 140 people, it has declined offers
of international assistance.
Observers say that the methods employed by Pakistani investigators
have probably already allowed crucial forensic evidence to be
Modern forensic practices, including the sealing off and preservation
of a crime scene, are little used in Pakistan. State television
showed pictures of police officers, wearing latex gloves, combing the
scene Saturday, picking up pieces of debris and carefully depositing
them in evidence bags.
But immediately after Thursday's attack, senior police inspectors had
looked on as pressure hoses were used to wash the pavement, which was
sticky with blood and strewn with broken glass. In the area where a
gunman's spent shell casings would likely have fallen, all was swept
into the torrent of bloodstained water.
"How do we find out who killed Benazir?" analyst Siddiqa said. "I
don't know that we ever will."
With Bhutto assassinated, turmoil -- even civil war -- loom for
Before the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on
Thursday, Pakistan was arguably the world's most unstable nuclear
power. Now there's no argument. With the country's strongest hope for
a democratic future now lying entombed near her martyred father,
Pakistan faces at best a long period of turmoil and uncertainty, and
at worst a civil war. Its nuclear arsenal has never been less secure,
and Al Qaeda and its sympathizers have never been closer to realizing
their dream of obtaining a nuclear device.
Those eager to lay blame for this catastrophe have plenty of targets.
At the top of the list is President Pervez Musharraf, who many
Pakistanis believe had a hand in Bhutto's murder. That's unlikely,
given that her death further weakens his political standing; his best
hope to remain in office was to form a coalition government with
Bhutto. Musharraf also is being blamed for failing to provide enough
security, another questionable charge given Bhutto's insistence on
appearing before crowds and standing up through the sunroof of her
bulletproof vehicle. Yet Musharraf isn't without fault. The emergency
rule he imposed in November shut down private TV and radio stations,
and even when channels reopened recently, they were forbidden from
airing political content, thus forcing Bhutto and other candidates to
do their campaigning via public appearances.
The United States now finds itself with no strong ally in Pakistan
besides Musharraf, and no good options remaining for promoting
democratic change -- a situation for which the Bush administration is
partly to blame. Washington invested all its hopes in Bhutto, failing
to cultivate relationships with other Pakistani political leaders.
Yet the person most to blame for the dangerous situation Pakistan now
presents to the world -- besides the assassin and his backers -- may
be Benazir Bhutto. Her Pakistan People's Party, the country's largest
political group, was a dynastic organization ruled entirely by one
woman; Bhutto sidelined charismatic leaders who rose within the
ranks, seeing them as potential rivals. As a result, there is no one
to take her place. To put her own life at enormous risk was certainly
courageous, but it also could be seen as reckless and arrogant.
For now, the hopes of Pakistan are riding on Bhutto's party. If it
can produce a new leader and call for calm and restraint rather than
violence and street protest, there's a chance that elections could
still go forward -- if not on Jan. 8, then soon after. Other likely
scenarios, such as another declaration of emergency rule by Musharraf
or an indefinite postponement of balloting, would only make a bad
Bhutto's long and tangled list of enemies
Analysts suspect that Al Qaeda had a hand in the assassination,
possibly along with other extremist groups.
By Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- It may have been a single assassin who killed former
Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but if so, he could have been
working with any number of Islamic extremist groups, U.S.
intelligence officials and South Asia analysts said Thursday.
Bhutto had returned from eight years of self-imposed exile with a
pledge to reform Pakistan in ways that would upset entrenched
political interests, powerful fundamentalist religious organizations,
and Al Qaeda and the Taliban. She was aligned with the U.S., and
vowed to crack down on the increasingly popular radicalism spreading
through the country. And she had publicly accused the government's
military and intelligence establishments of coddling terrorists.
As a result, the list of people and groups considered Bhutto's
archenemies was a long one. But determining who killed her, and why,
could be a complicated and confounding investigation, say current and
former U.S. officials and analysts. They say it is not likely that
someone working alone killed the daughter of a Pakistani political
A more likely scenario, they say, is that Al Qaeda was ultimately
responsible, because it has long targeted Bhutto and stands to gain
the most from the political destabilization that is certain to follow
her slaying. If that turns out to be the case, it is also likely that
additional extremist organizations were involved, analysts say.
Within Pakistan, Osama bin Laden's global network group has worked
closely with more than a dozen radical fundamentalist Islamic
organizations in Pakistan that have grown in power and popularity.
Two of them, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, changed their
names to avoid U.S. and Pakistani sanctions after they were
designated as terrorist organizations. Other groups include Lashkar-e-
Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. All are Sunni Muslim-based and
oppose Bhutto in part because she was female and Shiite Muslim.
Though they have links to Al Qaeda, such Sunni Muslim extremist
groups have their own leaders and their own agendas, and potentially
thousands of foot soldiers.
Another suspect is Baitullah Mahsud, a Taliban commander operating in
Pakistan's tribal areas, who reportedly pledged before Bhutto
returned to Pakistan in October to dispatch suicide bombers against
her, say current and former U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism
officials. Mahsud has denied that.
Complicating the situation is the fact that many of the extremist
groups have ties to Pakistan's political establishment, including
elements of the government loyal to President Pervez Musharraf, as
well as close ties to the military and its intelligence agencies.
Bhutto had long criticized such links, and in the wake of her killing
Thursday, some of her supporters accused the government of playing a
role. One senior U.S. counter-terrorism official also said Washington
suspected that rogue officials within the military or intelligence
agencies could have been involved, noting that though there is no
evidence, they have detested Bhutto for more than a decade.
U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, and groups such as
the Sept. 11 commission, have said that Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence agency in particular has cultivated relationships with
radical groups, using them as proxies to wage war against India while
protecting Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan.
U.S. intelligence officials said they were investigating but could
not confirm an initial claim of responsibility for the attack that
reportedly came from an Al Qaeda leader. An Italian website said
Mustafa Abu al Yazid, Al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, told its
reporter in a phone call, "We terminated the most precious American
asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedin."
The website also said the decision to assassinate Bhutto was made in
October by Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman Zawahiri.
Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the Directorate of National
Intelligence, said authorities were "obviously looking into" such
reports but had not yet been able to confirm them.
Even if Al Qaeda does claim responsibility, current and former U.S.
intelligence officials said they would be skeptical that it acted
without help from Pakistan-based groups, whose members are less
likely to stand out.
"We're still early on piecing it together," a U.S. intelligence
official said. "There are any number of groups within Pakistan that
could have mounted this attack."
In Pakistan, Musharraf blamed Islamic extremists and pledged to
redouble efforts to fight them. "This is the work of those terrorists
with whom we are engaged in war," he said in a nationally televised
President Bush described the slaying as a "cowardly act by murderous
extremists" trying to undermine Pakistan.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel stopped short of accusing Al
Qaeda or the Taliban, but said the attack used methods with which "Al
Qaeda is very familiar."
Bruce Riedel, a former Pakistan expert for the CIA, the National
Security Council and the State Department, said his "hunch" was that
Al Qaeda was responsible.
"They have been trying to kill her for years," he said. "They had
motive: Destabilize Pakistan further. And means: dozens of martyrs
ready to die."
However, Al Qaeda has rarely, if ever, used gunmen in assassination
Some U.S. intelligence experts and analysts said that there are so
many tangled alliances between the extremist groups and Pakistani
government agencies that it would be virtually impossible to get to
the bottom of who killed Bhutto unless the perpetrators came forward -
- with proof. The FBI has offered to send investigators, but Pakistan
has not responded, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said.
"There are just too many different groups that both have the desire
to do this and also . . . the capacity to do it to make any sense of
it until one of them convincingly comes out and suggests that they
did it," said Daniel Markey, who oversaw South Asia policy for the
State Department until February.
Markey also wondered whether U.S. officials should trust Pakistan to
aggressively investigate the slaying. "I have zero confidence that
the Pakistan government will get to the bottom of this, if they want
to or if they don't want to, no matter who is actually responsible
for it," he said.
The extremist groups, Markey said, have "their tentacles already
extended into the organs of the Pakistani state, which is what makes
this so troubling."
Stanzel told reporters in Crawford, Texas, that it was "up to the
Pakistani officials" to determine who killed Bhutto. He declined to
say whether the Bush administration believed Pakistan was up to the
Bhutto had suggested that alliances between extremists and the
government had put her country in a stranglehold, and that some
combination of those forces might someday kill her.
"I have long claimed that the rise of extremism and militancy in
Pakistan could not happen without support from elements within the
current administration," Bhutto wrote in a commentary last month for
Before her return to Pakistan, Bhutto said she feared that retired
army officers were plotting to assassinate her. In an interview with
Britain's Guardian newspaper, she noted that Mahsud, the Taliban
commander, had threatened to send suicide bombers against her. But
she said real danger came from extremist elements within the
country's military establishment that were opposed to her return.
"I'm not worried about Baitullah Mahsud, I'm worried about the threat
within the government," she told the Guardian. "People like Baitullah
Mahsud are just pawns. It is those forces behind him that have
presided over the rise of extremism and militancy in my country."
Pakistani officials angrily denied such allegations. They did so
again after Bhutto narrowly escaped injury Oct. 19, when suicide
bombers attacked her homecoming parade, killing more than 140 people.
No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.
But Bhutto described it as an attempt to silence her and her
opposition candidacy, and called for international assistance in
identifying the perpetrators. The Musharraf government declined to
seek outside help, and the investigation appears to have made little
On Thursday, Pakistani officials noted that radical extremists had
also displayed an interest in going after Musharraf and his
loyalists. The groups have launched several failed assassination
attempts against Musharraf. And in recent weeks, suicide bombers have
repeatedly targeted military and intelligence targets in Pakistan,
including the military garrison in Rawalpindi where Musharraf stays.
Benazir Bhutto's life a sweeping epic of blood and controversy
From the Associated Press
The suicide attack that killed Benazir Bhutto cut short an epic life,
one bathed in blood and awash with controversy.
Bhutto's father was hanged and a brother was shot to death. She had
risen to become the Muslim world's first female prime minister, only
to lose office and flee Pakistan for most of a decade in the face of
accusations she was corrupt.
And when, finally, she returned in October to marshal the opposition
against President Pervez Musharraf, her homecoming parade in Karachi
was targeted by a suicide attacker. More than 140 people, died, but
the 54-year-old Bhutto escaped injury and threw herself into the
"We have to modify our campaign to some extent because of the suicide
bombings. We will continue to meet the public. We will not be
deterred," she said then.
Her father was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, scion of a wealthy landowning
family in southern Pakistan and founder of the populist Pakistan
People's Party. The elder Bhutto was president and then prime
minister of Pakistan before his ouster in a 1977 military coup; two
years later, he was executed by the government of Gen. Zia-ul Haq
after being convicted of engineering the murder of a political
A year later, her youngest brother, Shahnawaz, had died under
mysterious circumstances in France; the family insisted he was
poisoned, but no charges were brought.
The elder Bhutto had sent his daughter to study politics and
government at Harvard and then at Oxford, where she was elected to
lead the prestigious debating society, the Oxford Union.
Bhutto returned to Pakistan after he father's death, swearing to
continue his work. She was detained several times before being exiled
to England in 1984. Two years later, she returned again to lead
rallies for the restoration of civilian rule.
After Zia's death in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, Bhutto gave
birth to the first of her three children. Beautiful, charismatic and
articulate, she led her party to an election victory and became the
first woman to lead a modern Muslim nation.
Her first administration was clouded by allegations of corruption and
clashes with Pakistan's powerful military; her administration was
dismissed after 20 months.
She was re-elected in 1993. But three years later, her brother
Murtaza died in a gunbattle with police in Karachi; Bhutto's husband,
Asif Ali Zardari, was charged with his murder. The charges eventually
were overturned, but Zardari spent eight years in prison on those
accusations and others involving corrupt dealings allegedly amounting
to millions of dollars.
Benazir accused President Farooq Leghari of involvement in Murtaza's
death, and Leghari dismissed her second government amid fresh
allegations of misrule. She sought to lead a third government, but
lost to archrival Nawaz Sharif in 1996.
She left Pakistan in 1999, just before a court convicted her of
corruption and banned her from politics.
The verdict was later quashed, but she stayed away until Musharraf
signed an amnesty, halting any corruption charges against her and
Her return was triumphant, but fraught with peril. She was defiant to
"Bhutto is alive! Bhutto is alive! Bhutto is alive!" she shouted at a
rally in December.