Bhutto-Zardari dynasty, dominant force in Pakistan politics

December 29, 2012 - 4:28:15 am

Garhi Khuda Bakhsh: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari launched his political career Thursday, becoming the third generation of his family to enter politics. 

The Bhutto-Zardari dynasty has had a dominant role in Pakistani politics since the country’s creation in 1947.



Born in 1928 and educated at Oxford, Zulfikar founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in December 1967 after holding various ministerial posts and representing Pakistan at the UN.

After the 1970 election and subsequent civil war that led to the creation of Bangladesh, Zulfikar became Pakistan’s leader and reformed the constitution to make the presidency a largely ceremonial role.

He was ousted in a military coup by General Zia-ul Haq in 1977 following opposition agitation over allegations of rigging in that year’s general election, and in 1979 he was controversially hanged over the murder of a political opponent.



The eldest child of Zulfikar, born on June 21 1953, Benazir studied at Harvard and Oxford and married Asif Ali Zardari in 1987.

In 1988, she won a general election after Zia was killed in a mysterious plane crash, becoming the Islamic world’s first female head of government.

In 1991 her government was sacked over corruption allegations. She was re-elected in 1993 but could not complete her second term as again her government was dismissed over corruption charges.

She left in 1998 amid corruption cases, returning to Pakistan in October 2007 to contest the general election. Three months later she was killed in a gun and suicide attack in Rawalpindi.



The polo-playing playboy from a landowning family was little known in political circles at the time of his arranged marriage into the Bhutto family, but managed to carve out a powerful position for himself, serving as a government minister in his wife’s two administrations. 

He became the co-chairman of the PPP after her death and rode a wave of public sympathy to win the 2008 election.

But now he has lost popularity and corruption allegations spanning over two decades have earned him the moniker “Mr 10 Percent”.



The only son of Benazir and Zardari was born on September 21, 1988, and studied politics and history at Oxford.

He spent most of his upbringing in exile with his mother, and since becoming PPP chairman on her death, his Urdu language skills have frequently been questioned in the press.

He will not be old enough to stand for parliament until September next year and so will not be a candidate in the general election if it is held as expected in the spring.