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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Benazir Bhutto's extraordinary career
Benazir Bhutto addresses party faithful at Trafakgar Square in August 2002
Benazir Bhutto at a London rally of her supporters
Benazir Bhutto's failure to secure a nomination for contesting the October elections marks the latest twist in the career of the woman who at one stage was feted at home and abroad as a symbol of modernity and democracy.

The rejection of her papers by the Pakistani Election Commission on the grounds of her failing to appear in court dashed her stated hopes to return home and resuscitate her political career.

Like the Nehru-Gandhi family in India, the Bhuttos of Pakistan are one of the world's most famous political dynasties.

Zufiqar Ali Bhutto
Her father was hanged by the military
Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was prime minister of Pakistan in the early 1970s.

His government was one of the few in the 30 years following independence that was not run by the army.

Reluctant politician

Born in 1953 in the province of Sindh and educated at Harvard and Oxford, Ms Bhutto gained credibility from her father's high profile, even though she was initially a reluctant convert to politics.

Benazir at a glance
Born in Sindh in 1953
Father executed in 1979
Dismissed as prime minister in 1990 and in 1996
Convicted for not appearing court in 1999
Retrial of corruption case ordered in 2001
She has twice been prime minister of Pakistan, from 1988 to 1990, and from 1993 to 1996.

On both occasions she was dismissed from office by the Pakistani president for alleged corruption.

The dismissals typified her volatile political career, which has been characterised by numerous peaks and troughs.

At the height of her popularity - shortly after her first election - she was one of the most high-profile women leaders in the world.

Young and glamorous, she successfully portrayed herself as a refreshing contrast to the overwhelmingly male-dominated political establishment in the Muslim world.

But after her second fall from power, her name came to be seen by some as synonymous with corruption and bad governance.


The determination and stubbornness for which Ms Bhutto is renowned was first seen after her father was imprisoned and charged with murder by General Zia ul-Haq in 1977, following a military coup. Two years later he was executed.

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir went abroad after her trial
Ms Bhutto was imprisoned just before her father's death and spent most of her five-year jail term in solitary confinement. She described the conditions as extremely hard.

During stints out of prison for medical treatment, Ms Bhutto set up a Pakistan People's Party office in London, and began a campaign against General Zia.

She returned to Pakistan in 1986, attracting huge crowds to political rallies.

After General Zia died in an explosion on board his aircraft in 1988, she became one of the first democratically-elected female prime ministers in an Islamic country.

Controversial husband

During both her stints in power, the role of Ms Bhutto's husband, Asif Zardari, proved highly controversial.

He played a prominent role in both her administrations, and has been accused by the Pakistani Government of stealing millions of dollars from state coffers.

Asif Zardari
Husband Asif Zardari: Assets under investigation
It is alleged that this money has been stashed in secret accounts throughout Europe.

Many commentators argued that Ms Bhutto's downfall was accelerated by the alleged greed of her husband, who received a five-year prison sentence.

She has steadfastly denied the corruption charges against her, which she says are politically-motivated.

But she left Pakistan in 1999 to live abroad shortly after her conviction - and has not returned since.

Even though she is out of Pakistan, questions about her and her husband's wealth have continued to dog her. She faces arrest if she returns to Pakistan.

Unhappy family

Benazir Bhutto is also the last remaining bearer of her late father's political legacy.

Her brother Murtaza, once expected to play an increasingly important role as a party leader, fled to the then-Communist Afghanistan after his father's fall.

From there, and various Middle Eastern capitals, he mounted a campaign against Pakistan's military government with a militant band called al-Zulfikar.

He won elections from exile in 1993 and became a provincial legislator, returning home soon afterwards, only to be shot dead under mysterious circumstances in 1996.

Benazir's other brother, Shahnawaz, also politically active but in less violent ways than Murtaza, was found dead in his Paris apartment in 1985.

See also:

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