Friday, October 19, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

She is back and I thought you all might find it interesting to know more about Ms. Bhutto:

Benazir Bhutto (born 21 June 1953 in Karachi) is a Pakistani politician who became the first woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. Benazir was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was sworn in for the first time in 1988 but she was removed from office 20 months later under the controversial orders of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. Benazir was re-elected in 1993 but was once again deposed by the President in 1996 on similar charges.

Ms. Benazir Bhutto had been living in exile in Dubai since 1998, until she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007. She is the eldest child of deposed premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi extraction, and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Kurdish extraction. Benazir studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford, and has an additional degree from Harvard University. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto.

Bhutto attended Lady Jennings Nursery School and then the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi, Pakistan. After two years of schooling at the Rawalpindi Presentation Convent, she was sent to the Jesus and Mary Convent at Murree. She passed her O-level examination at the age of 15. She then went on to complete her examinations from Karachi Grammar School.

After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the United States. From 1969 to 1973 she attended Radcliffe College in Massachusetts, Harvard University where she obtained a B.A. degree cum laude in comparative government. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

The next leg of her education took place in Great Britain. Between 1973 and 1977 Bhutto studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She completed a course in International Law and Diplomacy while at Oxford. In December 1976 she was elected president of Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head the prestigious debating society.

On December 18, 1987 Benazir married Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. The couple have three children, Bilawal, Bakhtwar, and Aseefa.

Charges of corruption

The French, Polish, Spanish and Swiss governments have provided documentary evidence to the Pakistan government of alleged corruption by Bhutto and her husband. Bhutto and her husband faced a number of legal proceedings, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in prison on similar corruption charges. Zardari, released from jail in 2004, has suggested that his time in prison involved torture; human rights groups have supported his claim that his rights were violated.

A 1998 report indicates that Pakistani investigators have documents that uncover a network of bank accounts, all linked to the family's lawyer in Switzerland, with Asif Zardari as the principal shareholder. According to the article, documents released by the French authorities indicated that Zadari offered exclusive rights to Dassault, a French aircraft manufacturer, to replace the air force's fighter jets in exchange for a 5% commission to be paid to a Swiss corporation controlled by Zardari. The article also said a Dubai company received an exclusive license to import gold into Pakistan for which Asif Zardari received payments of more than $10M into his Dubai-based Citibank accounts. The owner of the company denied that he had made payments to Zardari and claims the documents were forged. The paper also said that Zardari's parents, who had modest assets at the time of Bhutto's marriage, now own a 355-acre estate south of London. The estate has been auctioned through a court order.

Bhutto maintains that the charges levelled against her and her husband are purely politican. "Most of those documents are fabricated," she said, "and the stories that have been spun around them are absolutely wrong." An Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) report supports Bhutto's claim. It presents information suggesting that Benazir Bhutto was ousted from power in 1990 as a result of a witch hunt approved by then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The AGP report says Khan illegally paid legal advisors 28 million Rupees to file 19 corruption cases against Bhutto and her husband in 1990-92.

However, Bhutto and her husband still face wide-ranging allegations of theft concerning hundreds of millions of dollars of "commissions" on government contracts and tenders. Despite this, a power-sharing deal recently brokered between Bhutto and Musharraf will allow Bhutto access to her Swiss bank accounts containing £740 million ($1.5 Billion). Another one of her prime assets include her 10 bedroom mock Tudor Surrey mansion.

Read More Here.


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