The Tragedy of Benazir Bhutto

Even a woman of many firsts couldn’t escape the patriarchy and a husband who failed her.

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Benazir Bhutto campaigning for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) the week before general elections, October 15-16, 1990 (Derek Hudson/Getty Images)

Ayesha Le Breton


March 18, 2024

“It is very hard to tell if I will live through this [election campaign],” Benazir Bhutto said in early December 2007 in one of her last interviews. “When Pakistan’s very existence as a moderate country is at stake, then we all have to take the risk.” Bhutto had returned to Pakistan from Dubai a few months prior, ending eight years of exile. Tens of thousands welcomed the former prime minister, who was hoping to make a comeback. She’d never get the chance.

Only weeks later, on December 27, at a rally in Rawalpindi, a man shot at her and blew himself up, killing her. As the first female prime minister to lead a Muslim-majority country, she became a symbol of resistance and hope for women globally. But her death seemed inevitable in a country whose political elites could never see a woman ascend to such power.

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