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Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto (born 1953) became the first woman head of state in the Muslim world when she was elected prime minister of Pakistan in 1988, only to be deposed in a coup 20 months later. She was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later amid various corruption scandals.

The daughter of former Pakistani premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto[?], Benazir Bhutto was educated in the west, notably at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. During her time at Oxford, she was president of the Oxford Union, after the election had to be re-run because she accused her rival of illegal canvassing. Her entire undergraduate career was fuelled by controversy, coming in the middle of a period when her father's administration was being challenged both at home and abroad.

After graduating, she returned to Pakistan, but, in the course of her father's imprisonment and execution, she was placed under house arrest. Having been allowed, in 1984, to go back to the UK, she was leader in exile of her father's party, but was unable to make her political presence felt in Pakistan until the death of General Zia ul-Haq.

Bhutto has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999 when she left Pakistan to avoid arrest in a corruption case. She still heads the Pakistan People's Party[?] and says she wants to return to office. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari[?], is serving a seven-year prison term in Pakistan on charges of taking kickbacks.

It was during Bhutto's rule that the repressive Taliban gained prominence in Afghanistan with the financial assistance of her government. The Taliban took power in Kabul in September 1996, and Pakistan was a key supporter of the regime until the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

She currently lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she cares for her children and mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.



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