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This Happened

This Happened—November 16: Bhutto Breaks Through In Pakistan

Updated Nov. 16, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.

It was 35 years ago today when voters elected Benazir Bhutto to be the youngest ever and first female Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Who was Benazir Bhutto?

Bhutto was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister who was executed by his political rivals after a coup.

Benazir Bhutto decided to run for prime minister to pick up her father's secular legacy and opening of Pakistan toward teh rest of the world. After a tumultuous round of elections, and the death of rival and incumbent Muhammad Zia Ul-Huq, Bhutto led the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to victory in 1988, becoming the nation’s first female Prime Minister.

During her time in office, Bhutto prioritized advancing women’s rights in Pakistan despite its fundamentalist Islamic laws. She created a women’s division in the government, opened numerous all-female police stations to make women feel safer, and appointed female judges to deal with family matters in the courts, all with hopes of increasing women’s representation in Pakistani society.

Was Benazir Bhutto popular in Pakistan?

Bhutto’s administration was under constant scrutiny from day one. She was opposed by the conservative islamist opposition, and her power was restricted by Pakistan’s strong military and powerful politicians, including president Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

In 1990, Bhutto was removed from office on grounds of corruption and nepotism, while conservatives are widely believed to have rigged the election to secure their power.

Bhutto would win again in 1993, and serve as Pakistan’s leader until 1996. On December 27, 2007, Bhutto was waving out of her vehicle after delivering a PPP speech when she was shot at three times. The shooter detonated a suicide vest and Bhutto was pronounced dead, leaving behind a legacy of women’s empowerment in Pakistan. She now rests with her father — who had been executed by his political rivals — in the Bhutto family mausoleum.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

BDS And Us: Gaza's Toll Multiplies Boycotts Of Israel And Its Allies — Seinfeld Included

In Egypt and elsewhere in the region and the world, families and movements are mobilizing against companies that support Israel's war on Gaza. The power of the people lies in their control as consumers — and the list of companies and brands to boycott grows longer.

A campaign poster with the photo of a burger with blood coming out of it with text reading "You Kill" and the Burger King logo

A campaign poster to boycott Burger King in Bangkok, Malü

Matt Hunt/ZUMA
Mohammed Hamama

CAIRO — Ali Al-Din’s logic is simple and straightforward: “If you buy a can (of soda), you'll get the bullet too...”

Those bullets are the ones killing the children of Gaza every day, and the can he refuses to buy is “kanzaya” – the popular Egyptian soft drink. It is just one of a long list of products he had the habit of consuming. Ali is nine years old.

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The clarity and simplicity of this logic has pushed Ali Al-Din to boycott all the products on the lists people are circulating of companies that have supported Israel since the attacks on Gaza began in October. His mother, Heba, points out that her son took responsibility for overseeing the boycott in their home.

A few days ago, he saw a can of “Pyrosol” insecticide, but he thought it was one of the products of the “Raid” company that was on the boycott’s lists. He warned his mother that this product was on the boycott list, but she explained that the two products were different. Ali al-Din and his younger brother also abstained from eating any food from McDonald's. “They love McDonald’s very much,” his mother says. “But they refuse.”

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