Begum Nusrat Bhutto, wife of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and mother of former PM Benazir Bhutto passed away on Sunday in Dubai. She was 82.
Begum Bhutto, who was of the Iranian descent, was the second wife of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Begum Bhutto had alzheimers and had also recently suffered a stroke. She had withdrawn from public life in 1996, following the death of her eldest son, Murtaza, who was killed in a police shootout in Karachi. Soon after his death, Nusrat was diagnosed with alzheimers disease.
The mother of four, she saw the death of not only her husband in 1979, but also of her three children - youngest son Shahnawaz in 1985, Murtaza in 1996 and daughter Benazir in 2007. Her daughter, Sanam, survives her.
Nusrat took over the reigns of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) following the arrest of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and held the mantle in the trying times of the martial law imposed by General Zia Ul Haq in 1977.
In 1982, she was allowed to leave Pakistan after she was diagnosed with cancer but continued to carry out her political activities from outside the country. She handed over the mantle of the party then to Benazir.
She was elected as MP in 1988, following the end of the Zia era, and in 1990. However, during the second term in office of Benazir as PM, Nusrat openly sided with Murtaza Bhutto, was returned from exile and formed his own political party.
“She was a pillar of strength for the party in its most trying times,” commented Dr Mubashir Hasan, one of the founding members of the PPP.
Presidential spokesperson Faranaz Isphani, who also traces her family roots to Ispahan in Iran from where Nusrat also hailed, said that she considered Begum Bhutto as “second only to Fatima Jinnah in terms of the services she rendered for the cause of democracy in Pakistan”.