From her family background and her education she was clearly destined to be a political leader in Pakistan. She was born in 1953 in Karachi, the first child of her parents. Her early education was in Christian schools because the Christian schools in Pakistan were the best schools for education. This early acquaintance with Western influence would beneficial in understanding the world outside of Pakistan.
To begin her higher education she was sent by her family to Harvard University (technically to Radcliffe College, the adjunct college for females of Harvard University). She did extraordinarily well at Harvard. She majored in comparative government and graduated cum laude and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the honorary society for academic excellence. After her four years (1969 to 1973) at Harvard she went on for graduate education at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. She pursued studies in philosophy, economics, politics, international law and diplomacy. Clearly she was preparing herself for leadership in Pakistan. She spent four years at Oxford (1973-1977) and was elected the president of the Oxford debating society.
She returned to Pakistan to political turmoil. Her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had been made Prime Minister in 1971 after the debacle of the separation of Bangladesh. That separation was caused in large part by the intransigence of Ali Bhutto. He ruled as Prime Minister until 1977 when he was deposed as a result of the military coup of Zia ul-Haq. Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan and was placed under house arrest. Her father was arrested and put on trial by Zia and ultimately hanged in 1979. For a period of time around the time of the execution of her father, Benazir and her mother were imprisoned by the Zia government.
In 1984 Benazir Bhutto was allowed to leave Pakistan and migrate to Britain. She later returned to Pakistan and in 1987 she married Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi. When elections were held in 1988 after the death of Zia ul-Haq, the People's Party of Pakistan (PPP) which Benazir Bhutto now controlled, was able to form a government with Benazir as the Prime Minister. She tried to bring about reforms but that was not an easy task in Pakistan where any change is suspected of being Westernization.
In 1990 the President of Pakistan exercised his power to dismiss the government of Bhutto and the Punjabi leader, Nawaz Sharif, became Prime Minister. Sharif's government lasted until 1993 when new elections were held. Benazir Bhutto's PPP was again made prime minister. In 1996 another president again exercised the presidential power to dismiss a government and took Benazir Bhutto out of power. She served thereafter as the opposition leader until 1998 when she went into exile.
There were numerous charges of corruption placed against her for events occurring during the time she was in office. In 2007 the charges were dropped and she returned to Pakistan in October of 2007. She campaigned for the election to be held in early 2008. After a PPP rally in Rawalpindi on December 27th, as she was leaving she had her vehicle stopped to recognize a group of her supporters. She stood up through the sun roof to acknowledge the support of the crowd. Shots were fired and a bomb was detonated killed about twenty bystanders. Benazir Bhutto incurred a skull fracture in the incident and died in the hospital shortly afterwards.