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Benazir in top 50 women

The only Muslim woman on the list, Bhutto stands beside Margaret Thatcher for contribution to politics.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 19:37 IST

Exiled former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto has been named alongside former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana among the 50 women who have shaped history.

A book titled Women Who Changed The World, published by Smith Davies, names 50 "inspirational" women, dating from before Christ to the present day, who have positively impacted history.

Bhutto, current Pakistan People's Party chairperson, stands alongside Thatcher for her contribution to politics. She is the only Muslim woman on the list, Pakistan Today reported.

The book honours Bhutto for being the first woman to lead a Muslim nation in modern times and for improving the conditions of women and the underprivileged in Pakistan. Her struggle against dictatorship and martial law is also commended.

The book features women who have made exceptional contributions to the fields of human endeavour, politics, literature, art, science, music, social reform, entertainment, sport and adventure.

Other women featured in the book include Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Jane Austen, Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie and Madame Mao.

Bhutto has previously gone on record as saying: "When I was growing up I thought a woman could have it all and now I find that, yes, a woman can have it all but she has to be prepared to pay the price."

Living in self-exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto has been a staunch critic of President Pervez Musharraf and before him, her arch political rival and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

However, she is presently engaged in confabulations with Sharif and other leaders to take on Musharraf who has indicated parliamentary elections for next year. Bhutto has said she will return to Pakistan ahead of next elections whether or not she is allowed to participate in them, Dawn reported Sunday.

"Whether or not the rulers allow me to take part in the elections, I will return home at any cost, not for the reason that I want to become prime minister.... (but because) I owe to the nation to fulfil my pledge I have made to it," Bhutto told Online news agency Saturday.

"Musharraf talks of corruption but he has not disclosed his assets nor has released report on dues against him." Answering a question on her contacts and the much talked about "deal" with Musharraf, she said: "I am happy that some one has asked me this question as such reports from time to time find way in the media that Musharraf has contacted me through his envoys. The fact is that no one has met me.

"We are ready for dialogue to forge national consensus. But it depends on the agenda, the Pakistan People's Party leader said.

"I am being repeatedly asked that I should stay outside the country so much so that I should not return to Pakistan to launch campaign for party candidates in the elections nor I should contest elections. If I don't do so, I am told, I and my family will be ruined and my property and liberty will be snatched. This all can not be an agenda rather it is a flagrant threat."

On corruption charges against her, she said they were fabricated.

"This can not be a reason for removing someone from power. The rulers say I purchased Surrey Palace out of the money I had collected through kickbacks. But now the court has proved that it is not owned by me... My husband was involved in it but the court verdict has exonerated me from the allegation."

About Musharraf's way of governance, she said when he came to power, people pinned high hopes on him but he dashed all hopes by forming the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), a faction of the party that is supporting him, through intelligence agencies.

"This party will no more exist after departure of Gen Musharraf," she predicted.