Islamabad, Dec 27: Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on Thursday afternoon in Rawalpindi"s Liaquat Bagh area, was 54. Born on June 21, 1953, Bhutto was the first woman Prime Minister elected to lead a post-colonial Muslim state.
Bhutto attended the Lady Jennings Nursery School and then the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi. 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 A-Levels from the 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, and then Harvard University, where she obtained a B.A. degree cum laude in comparative government. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
The next phase of her education took place in the United Kingdom. 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 the Oxford Union, becoming the first Asian woman to head the prestigious debating society.
On December 18, 1987 she married Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. The couple have three children: Bilawal, Bakhtwar, and Aseefa.
She was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, for the first time in 1988 for a period of 20 months before being removed by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993, Bhutto was re-elected as Prime Minister and removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari.
Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998, where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with General Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn.
She was the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi extraction, and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish extraction.
Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto who came to Larkana Sindh before partition from his native town of Bhatto Kalan in Haryana.
After spending eight years in exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto returned to Karachi in October this year to prepare for the 2008 general elections and suicide bombers immediately attacked her PPP rally.
There have been several assassination attempts on Bhutto in the past.