The trials of Benazir Bhutto – a chronology


Islamabad : Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned to her homeland Thursday after spending eight years in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai.

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The following are some of the key events in her career:

April 1979: Benazir Bhutto is imprisoned just before her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is executed by Gen Zia ul Huq. She is sentenced to five years in jail.

1984: Bhutto allowed to leave for London for health reasons after spending much of her three years in prison in solitary confinement. Bhutto reorganises her father’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in London and takes over its leadership.

April 1986: Bhutto returns from exile in London and holds political rallies, attracting massive crowds.

Dec 6, 1988: Bhutto becomes the first woman prime minister of a Muslim nation after winning parliamentary elections.

Aug 6, 1990: Bhutto government dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of corruption charges against her and husband Asif Zardari. Her political opponent Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League, is made prime minister.

July 1993: President Ghulam Ishak Khan dismisses Sharif as prime minister, also on grounds of alleged corruption.

Oct 19, 1993: Bhutto takes oath for a second term as prime minister after elections in which no party is a clear winner. She takes the support of smaller parties.

Sep 1996: Murtaza Bhutto, Benazir’s younger brother, is shot dead by policemen along with six of his political workers.

Nov 5, 1996: Bhutto government dismissed again – this time by President Farooq Leghari, not only on charges of corruption but also of carrying out staged killings.

Feb 1997: Sharif becomes prime minister again after his PML convincingly wins general elections.

April 14, 1999: Bhutto and Zardari found guilty of corruption charges involving a Swiss company, while she is out of the country. Zardari goes to jail, and Bhutto remains in exile.

May 1999: Pakistani troops and militants occupy positions in the Kargil area of Kashmir. Strains emerge between Sharif and Musharraf after international condemnation led by the US.

Oct 1999: Sharif sacks Musharraf, but the general hits back by leading an army coup against him and taking control of administration.

Aug 2000: Musharraf bars Bhutto and Sharif from active politics.

Dec 2000: Sharif goes into exile.

July 2002: Court sentences Bhutto (in absentia) to three years in prison on corruption charges.

July 2003: A Swiss court convicts Bhutto and Zardari for money laundering. Given jail sentences and fine.

Nov 2003: Sentence overturned by a higher court.

Nov 2004: Zardari released from prison in Pakistan.

Mar 2005: PPP says it is increasing contact with Musharraf.

Oct 5, 2007: Musharraf signs a corruption amnesty against Bhutto.

Oct 18, 2007: Bhutto returns to Pakistan from eight years in self-exile.

Nov 15, 2007: Musharraf’s five-year presidential term and the term of the sitting parliament expires.

Jan 14, 2008: The latest date for parliamentary elections.